What Causes Yellow Teeth in Adults?

model of yellow teeth sitting on white table with white background

What Causes Yellow Teeth in Adults?

Yellow teeth are a very common and frustrating problem. Because of the aging process, seniors are more likely to have yellow teeth, even if their teeth are otherwise healthy. If you’re concerned about the color of your teeth, understanding the causes of yellowing can help you find a solution. Here are some of the most common causes of yellow teeth, and what you can do about it. 

Five Common Causes of Yellow Teeth in Older Adults

1: The Natural Aging Process

Over time, the protective outer layer of tooth enamel wears down, revealing the dentin underneath. Dentin has a yellow tint which can show through thin enamel and make your teeth appear discolored. Using a fluoride toothpaste will help strengthen your enamel and minimize the natural yellowing caused by aging. 

2: Poor Oral Hygiene

Neglecting to brush and floss regularly results in plaque buildup that can quickly harden into tartar, which turns more and more yellow with time. Only a professional dental cleaning can remove tartar buildup, so getting routine dental exams is an important part of practicing good oral hygiene. 

If your teeth are mostly yellow near the gumline, it’s likely due to plaque or tartar, because this is where it tends to accumulate. Make sure to brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once a day, and visit the dentist once every six months.

3: Food and Beverage Stains

Most of us consume foods and drinks like coffee, tea, red wine, and dark berries that can stain our tooth enamel. Food stains will only get worse over time, leading to yellow or grayish teeth. 

Seniors who have been drinking coffee every day for decades are more likely to notice tooth discoloration. Limiting your consumption of staining foods and drinks, drinking through a straw, or drinking a glass of water after consuming these items can help minimize stains. 

4: Tobacco Use

Tooth discoloration is one of the many consequences of using tobacco. Whether you smoke, vape, or chew, the nicotine in tobacco can cause severe yellowing of the teeth. The consequences of tobacco use also include advanced gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Quitting will help you prevent further yellowing and improve your oral health. 

5: Medications

Some medications can cause tooth discoloration as a side effect. Antibiotics and medications for high blood sugar are common offenders. Some medications can also cause dry mouth, which increases plaque buildup due to the lack of saliva. Speak with your doctor about adjusting your medications to prevent tooth decay and discoloration.  

How to Whiten Yellow Teeth

Surface stains from the coffee or light plaque buildup can sometimes be whitened with over-the-counter products. However, professional whitening treatments are much more effective for seniors. In-office and at-home professional whitening can begin to remove decades of staining and lighten age-related yellowing. 

Keep in mind that whitening treatments can not change the color of dental restorations such as fillings and crowns. Any restorations you have will need to be replaced after whitening if you want them to match the new shade of your natural teeth. 

Teeth Whitening for Seniors in Sun Lakes, Arizona

There’s no reason to hide your smile—brightening your teeth is easy with at-home whitening kits. Dr. Saba and Associates offers safe and effective professional whitening kits that adults can use at home to safely and effectively brighten their smiles. Give us a call at 480-895-2111 today to schedule a consultation. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/4/2023). Photo by Rudi Fargo on Unsplash