Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness with Age?

Feb 06, 2024
 Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness with Age?
Your teeth change over a lifetime, including their development through childhood and permanent growth in and through adulthood. But what changes lead to teeth losing their whiteness as we get older? 

When it comes to keeping healthy teeth, there are some markers for most people, such as keeping them brushed, flossed, and clear of particles and plaque to stay as white as possible. White teeth are commonly associated with being healthy, but that’s not their natural color. Your teeth consist of four main parts

  • Enamel, the hardest substance our body produces on the outside
  • Dentin, the section just underneath
  • Cementum, which protects your tooth root, and
  • Pulp, where the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues reside 

The dentin in your teeth primarily determines the color, which is a pale yellow, and the enamel that covers it is translucent, making teeth normally more off-white at their brightest. However, the color of your teeth does change a lot over the years for several reasons. 

To understand how discoloration happens with age, we discuss how your teeth change over time, the common reasons for discoloration, and how to avoid and treat them.

Dr. Ayed Hawatmeh and his dedicated medical staff at Bravo Dental Group can find the treatment right for you if you live in the Brea, Banning, or Helmet, California area and are trying to treat discolored teeth.

Changes in teeth as you age

Your teeth are strong and built to last your whole life, but many basic things like chewing, biting, and grinding teeth, can lead to natural wear and tear as you age. 

Add other factors, such as eating foods that wear down the enamel, chewing on hard foods like ice, and tooth grinding at night, all affect the health and condition of teeth. In addition, your dental care habits and how frequently you brush and floss your teeth are as important as your teeth’s condition. 

Reasons for discoloration over time

Discoloration in teeth is the result of staining or darkening in one of two ways:

  • Extrinsic factors: this form of discoloring includes things that stain the enamel of your teeth, like the foods and drinks you ingest, or environmental factors 
  • Intrinsic factors: this discoloring derives from damage inside the tooth (dentin), which can result from injury and some medications

Avoidable types of discoloring include items we eat and drink, such as tea, berries, red wine, and soy sauce. Bad habits like smoking can make teeth yellow over time. Bad oral hygiene also leads to teeth staining if you don’t remove plaque regularly through brushing and flossing.

Discoloration that is unavoidable sometimes comes from genetics, dental trauma (injuries), certain diseases, and enamel thinning  as we age, leading to more yellowing.

Prevention and treatment

Here’s what you can do to avoid or manage discoloration in teeth:


When you plan to eat foods that can stain teeth, brush and floss your teeth as soon as possible afterward to reduce discoloration. Drinking or swishing water can help if dental tools are not immediately available. Practicing dental hygiene is one of the best ways to lessen staining, and stopping smoking can help reduce yellowing.

Treatment options

Teeth whitening treatments are available as in-office treatments and take-home kits. Both can help to brighten your smile, but having it done in the office offers a whitener solution that gets applied professionally.

Getting discolored teeth as you age is typical, but many factors can determine why it's happening and if it poses a danger to your teeth. To find out the best way to manage whitening your teeth, request an appointment with Dr. Hawatmeh and Bravo Dental Group today.