Elmhurst Cosmetic Dentist Discusses How Teeth Change Color and Become Stained

Written by Dr. Scharfenberg on Jun 25, 2012

Elmhurst Cosmetic Dentist Discusses How Teeth Change Color and Become Stained

No matter what a patient’s age, a white, bright smile is an asset and something that many people crave. Young patients are often able to maintain bright enamel by simply brushing and flossing diligently, and maintaining a regular schedule of professional cleanings. In fact, many of our young patients report that they are happy with the whiteness of their smile after a thorough dental cleaning!


As we age, however, it becomes more difficult to achieve a sparkling white smile. Many adult patients find that their once vibrant teeth have become darker and yellower. What’s more, regular cleanings and daily oral hygiene don’t seem to have the same whitening effect that they once did. As a result, our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists hear the same question over and over again—why are my teeth looking so discolored?


The truth is, dental enamel changes with age, and consequently the appearance of a patient’s teeth change as well. There are a number of reasons that teeth may appear dark or yellow, and many of them are somewhat unavoidable. The good news is that if you think you’re suffering from one of these cosmetic problems there are teeth whitening treatments that can restore your white smile.


Dental discoloration is often the result of consuming staining substances for an extended period of time. Popular drinks like coffee, tea, and cola can darken teeth. Additionally tobacco products—both smoking and chewing tobacco—make dental enamel look dark and dingy, and contribute to dental decay. Over time these environmental stains become more persistent and harder to clean.


Sometimes patients find that their tooth look yellow or dark simply because their dental enamel has aged. Dental enamel wears down just like the rest of the body, over time it thins and becomes more translucent. The problem is that just below the layer of white enamel is a darker layer of a substance called dentin. As enamel becomes thinner the dentin shows through the surface of the teeth, causing them to appear discolored.


These aesthetic changes are largely unavoidable, and many patients suffer from some combination of environmental staining and enamel depletion as they age. However, there are a variety of cosmetic treatments—including professional teeth whitening treatments and dental veneers—that can restore the appearance of your sparkling smile. If you’ve been considering rejuvenating your smile, give our Elmhurst cosmetic dentists a call for more information or to talk about your situation in greater detail—(630) 733-1624.