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What Causes Yellow Teeth and How to Avoid It

by | Jul 10, 2021

Are you frustrated with your teeth because they’re not white? If so, you aren’t alone. Bright, white teeth are seen as an ideal aesthetic and something many people strive to have. Because while yellow teeth aren’t generally a sign of unhealthiness, you may not like the look of them.

The yellowish hue that happens is the color of the underlying dentin layer and the reason it starts to show is because the enamel on the surface has thinned or become more translucent. The following is a look at what causes that enamel to thin and what you can do to avoid yellow teeth:

What Causes Yellow Teeth and How to Avoid It

Certain Foods

  • Acidic foods erode that top layer of enamel and allow the underlying yellowish dentin to show through. You can avoid this effect by either avoiding acidic food or brushing your teeth after eating them. Such high-acid foods include tomatoes and tomato-based products, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes.
  • Dark and acidic beverages are just as bad for eroding away enamel. Coffee, soda, tea, and red wine are all apt to stain teeth. As with foods, it is a good idea to brush or rinse your mouth after consuming many of these types of beverages.
  • Starchy foods are also a cause of yellow teeth. Starchy foods are foods with refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, chips, and bread. Those carbohydrates tend to get caught in between teeth and gums, where they decompose into simple sugars that attract acid-causing bacteria.

Smoking and Vaping

Smoking has long been a primary reason for yellow teeth. This is due to the nicotine, tar, and other chemicals common in tobacco and vape products. These chemicals attach to teeth enamel, coating them and causing a yellowed stain as well as a foul smell. In some cases, simply stopping smoking or vaping and keeping up with good oral habits like brushing and using mouthwash will cause that stain to go away. However, prolonged use of tobacco and vape products can lead to those chemicals leaching into pores on the teeth and gums, causing eventual rot and tooth decay.

Sleeping Habits

There are two sleep habits that can lead to yellow teeth.

The first is those sleepers who breathe primarily through their mouth and not nostrils due to nasal congestion caused by allergies or sickness. Mouth breathing at night causes the body to produce less saliva, which in turn causes less acid to be naturally rinsed away.

The second bad sleeping habit that can cause yellow teeth is teeth grinding also called bruxism. Bruxism is very damaging to the teeth as it wears down tooth enamel, causing it to become brittle and thin.

Not Brushing and Flossing Frequently Enough


It can be hard to maintain this every day, but doing the best you can to brush and floss will improve your overall oral health.


Unfortunately, many brush and floss twice a day and still have a shade of red or yellow on their teeth; that is simply due to genetics. While this may be frustrating, know that it is perfectly normal! The idea that teeth are supposed to be perfectly white is a myth. You could go your whole life without ever coming in contact with a type of discoloring agent, always brush and floss, and still have off-colored teeth. What happened is that, due to genetics, you simply have a darker or more pronounced dentin layer that ‘shines’ through a thinner layer of enamel.

If your cause of yellow teeth is due to this, unfortunately, no amount of brushing or surface whitening will fix it. That said, you still likely have healthy teeth.

Getting Professional Help With Triangle Dentistry

Brushing, flossing, and mouth washing are excellent preventative steps to stop yellow teeth from happening and even to get rid of any slight yellowish color you might already have. However, if your teeth have a yellow tinge that doesn’t seem to go away, then your next step might be to go to the professionals.

Here at Triangle Dentistry, we are proud to offer the very best procedures for teeth whitening. We offer safe solutions that will get your teeth to that pearly white shade without damages or the use of harmful bleaches. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule your consultation.


Triangle Dentistry, located in Raleigh, NC, provides a state-of-the-art facility that offers exceptional general dental and specialty services guided by empathy of a patient’s needs and desires. Services range from dental crowns to veneers and whitening procedures. For further information, questions, or to schedule an appointment, contact the office at (919) 847-6000