Causes of Tooth Discoloration By Dr. John Goodman on February 21, 2019

Illustration of tooth discolorationThere are many issues that can affect the appearance of the smile, but one of the most common is tooth discoloration. It is difficult to maintain teeth that are as bright and white as most people would like.

Dr. John Goodman offers a comprehensive range of cosmetic dentistry treatments to address blemishes, such as tooth discoloration, and give patients a more attractive smile. Teeth whitening treatment can correct many forms of tooth discoloration, but not all, so it is important to determine what is causing the teeth to appear discolored or stained.

Here, Dr. Goodman discusses the causes of tooth discoloration with our Kansas City, MO patients.

Foods and Beverages

One of the most common, and also most well-known, causes of tooth discoloration is food and beverages. Not all foods stain the teeth, but those with dark pigmentation or high levels of acid can cause the teeth to become stained or discolored.

Most foods and beverages will not discolor the teeth if they are consumed sparingly, but with continual exposure, certain foods and drinks can make the teeth look gray or yellowed. Foods and drinks that are most likely to discolor the teeth include colas, coffee, tea, berries, wine, and tomato sauce. 

Certain Medications

Certain medications can also cause the teeth to become discolored. Discoloration is most likely to develop in children who are prescribed the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline. Certain antibiotic rinses can also cause the teeth to become stained or colored yellow.

These medications discolor the deeper layers of the teeth, so teeth whitening is ineffective for this type of staining, but other cosmetic dentistry treatments can help.


Smoking or the use of other tobacco products is another common cause of tooth discoloration. The nicotine and tar that are in tobacco products seep into the pores of the teeth and cause the enamel to become discolored.

If a person smokes for a long time, their teeth are likely to look yellow or brown. Teeth whitening can improve the color of a smoker’s teeth, but tobacco products will only continue to cause discoloration until the habit is quit.

Oral Trauma

A traumatic oral injury can cause the teeth to become discolored as well. In the case of an injury, the color of the tooth will change fairly quickly, usually within just a few days. This type of discoloration will occur if the injury was severe enough to damage the roots of the tooth, essentially creating a “dead” tooth.

If the roots are no longer viable, the tooth will take on a gray or brown appearance. Tooth discoloration caused by oral injury will require restorative dental treatment.


Just like any other part of the body, the appearance of the teeth is likely to change as a person ages. The tooth will look less bright and white because tooth enamel will wear down and thin. This will reveal more of the underlying tooth structure, or dentin, which is likely to give the teeth a more yellow appearance.

Depending on the specifics of each case, tooth discoloration that is caused by aging may be treated by teeth whitening, restorative or cosmetic dental care, or a combination of both.

Contact Us

No matter what has caused your teeth to become discolored, Dr. John Goodman offers dental treatments to restore a brighter, whiter smile. To learn more about the cosmetic and restorative dentistry services offered at our practice, contact us at your earliest convenience, or call (816) 842-8585 to schedule an appointment.

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John P. Goodman, DDS

John P. Goodman, DDS We Give Kansas City a Reason to Smile!

Dr. John Goodman has more than two decades of experience serving the community of Kansas City, MO. He offers a comprehensive range of services to address all types of dental problems, and he accepts CareCredit® financing to make treatment as accessible as possible. 

To request a consultation, please fill out our online form or call us at (816) 842-8585.

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"My experience with Dr. John Goodman DDS was outstanding. The entire staff was courteous and very accommodating. Dr. Goodman made me feel very comfortable but also finally gave me hope for having that "beautiful smile" that we (with not so good teeth) always wish for. I left feeling elated and excited for the first time about a dental appointment."

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