Why Are My Teeth Yellowing?

Dr. Christopher Li Etobicoke - Li Family Dental

By Dr. Christopher Li

August 1, 2021

dental care, oral health, teeth whitening, yellow teeth

If you are worried about your teeth yellowing, keep in mind that most adults don’t have perfectly white teeth. We each have a variation of white that can range from gray hues to yellows and even hints of brown. However, if your teeth seem to be worsening and getting yellower, there are several things that can be causing the issue. Here we look at the common causes of teeth yellowing and how to avoid them.

Age-Related Teeth Stains


As we age our teeth gradually yellow over time. It all depends on your lifestyle and whether you smoke, the types of food and drinks you enjoy, your dental hygiene habits, and of course how often you have your teeth cleaned and polished professionally. Your best bet to avoid yellowing teeth is to practice excellent oral health with proper brushing and flossing, plus regular dental checkups and cleanings. You can also make some lifestyle adjustments, as we discuss below.

Natural Staining


Your teeth are prone to natural staining over time. What you eat and drink and things such as smoking all contribute to staining. You can increase discolouration of your teeth by doing the following:

  • Smoking: Cigarette smoke causes your teeth to not only yellow but also brown if you are a heavier smoker. However, another culprit is marijuana. The carcinogens in marijuana smoke can also cause staining, although not as pronounced as stains from tobacco.
  • Dark Fruits and Vegetables: There are many darker-coloured fruits and vegetables that can cause stains such as dark berries and cherries, pomegranates, beets, etc.
  • Red Wine: We know true wine lovers find this one a little hard to face, but remember there’s always white wine!
  • Coffee and Black Tea: Both of these popular warm beverages wreak havoc on white teeth. If you can’t do without your morning beverages, try adding milk or cream to reduce the depth of colour.
  • Dark Soft Drinks and Sports Drinks: The dyes and colour of these sugary drinks also cause deep staining.
  • Dark Sauces: Sauces like tomato sauce, soy sauce and curry are all notorious teeth stainers. When choosing pasta sauces opt for creams or pestos instead.
  • Sweet Treats: Candies and frozen treats like popsicles can stain teeth as well. The darker the colour of the sweet, the more likely it is to stain.

While it can be hard to avoid all these risk factors, you can certainly be more mindful of their staining power and reduce how much of them you enjoy.

Natural Discolouration


A challenge when it comes to tooth colour is that one person’s white is another person’s yellow. It often boils down to perception where you just aren’t seeing the bright white you would like to see. However, your teeth might just be their whitest, as everyone has varying degrees of natural white to their teeth. As well, instead of stains that can be removed, your teeth might be permanently discoloured. This can be caused by a number of issues including medicines, tooth trauma, or underlying health conditions.

Extrinsic Teeth Stains are the stains caused by food and drink, which can be removed or reduced with proper oral hygiene and professional cleanings. However, Intrinsic Teeth Stains are below the surface and require a professional-strength bleaching agent applied by a dentist.

How To Reduce Staining And Teeth Yellowing


The good news is there are several ways you can help reduce staining and teeth yellowing including:

  • Proper Oral Hygiene: First, be sure you practice proper brushing and flossing to help keep your smile healthy and bright.
  • Dental Checkups and Cleanings: As part of your oral hygiene regime, you should be seeing your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning. This helps reduce stains, and also provides an opportunity to discuss your brushing technique to improve your smile’s appearance.
  • Professional Teeth Whitening: Speak to our team about professional teeth whitening treatments. We can assess your smile and make recommendations to brighten your teeth. If you aren’t suited to whitening, or your discolouration is permanent, we can offer other cosmetic dental treatments to whiten your smile such as bonding or veneers.
  • Quit Smoking: This is always a major lifestyle change that can prove to be quite difficult. However, when you quit smoking, whiter teeth just happens to be an added bonus. The main benefit is you greatly improve your overall health and reduce the risk for serious illness such as cancer or heart disease. You can also add as many as 10 years to your life.
  • Enjoy a Varied, Healthy Diet: Many of the foods listed as culprits for teeth staining are also quite healthy. The trick is to eat a healthy, balanced diet with a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies. The ones listed here can be enjoyed in moderation, or you can rinse your mouth with water following a meal or snack with teeth-staining healthy foods.
  • Choose Natural Whitening Foods: There are actually several food choices that can help promote whiter teeth naturally including:
    • Raisins: Raisins help stimulate saliva production to neutralize acids that can eat away at your enamel and make teeth appear dull.
    • Apples: Apples are like nature’s toothbrush helping to scrub away bacteria while also containing a main ingredient found in toothpaste, malic acid, which increases saliva.
    • Cheese: The calcium and phosphorous in cheese help protect tooth enamel, while the lactic acid prevents tooth decay and stimulates saliva.
    • Milk: Milk has the same benefits as cheese with the addition of helping to wash away bacteria during meals. It also contains casein which prevents tooth staining.
    • Yogurt: Yogurt offers the same benefits as milk.
    • Broccoli: Raw broccoli has polishing power while also providing healthy iron to protect teeth from enamel erosion.
    • Strawberries: Although strawberries are deep red, they contain a natural bleaching property that removes stains, as well as malic acid to increase saliva. Just don’t rub them on your teeth as this will damage your enamel. Eat them as a healthy snack.
    • Watermelon: Watermelon is rich in malic acid and fiber to scrub teeth and increase saliva.
    • Papaya: This fruit contains an enzyme that dissolves pellicle, a layer of your teeth that tends to absorb food pigments and attracts bacteria.
    • Pineapple: Another tropical fruit, pineapple also contains pellicle-dissolving proteins.
    • Water: Sipping water reduces staining by helping with saliva production while flushing the debris away in your mouth.


These naturally whitening foods can do wonders in keeping your teeth white.

For professional help and guidance with teeth whitening options, give us a call at 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.




Dr. Christopher Li

About the author

Doctor Christopher Li, DDS
Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.  Dr. Chris loves sharing information with his patients and everyone who has teeth about how to care for their teeth, avoid tooth decay, and the treatments available to help them overcome their tooth pain or other dental issues so they can enjoy life and food to its fullest!

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