Discolored Teeth? Why You Should Visit The Dentist

Posted on: 9 January 2023

Are your teeth stained or yellowing? Before you invest in an over-the-counter whitening product, take a look at the top reasons to schedule an appointment with your dentist.

You Don't Know Why Your Teeth Aren't White

There are several possible reasons for dental discoloration. While you might think dark foods or beverages (such as berries, tea, or coffee) are the culprits, it's possible this problem has a more serious cause. At-home or over-the-counter whitening strips, gels, and pastes can help to remove or cover some surface staining. But these products can't treat every cause of dental discoloration.

Beyond normal discoloration from foods/beverages, other common causes of yellowing, darkening, or staining include:

  • Enamel erosion. Dental enamel is the hard, white outer part of the tooth. It protects the yellowish dentin tissue underneath. Acidic or sugary foods/beverages and some types of wear can lead to enamel erosion. This exposes the yellow dentin.

  • Medications. Tetracycline and doxycycline antibiotics can cause dental discoloration in young children (specifically as their enamel forms). Some antihistamines, antihypertensives, and medicated mouth rinses can also cause staining.

  • Injury. An impact can cause a black, gray, or brown area on a tooth.

  • At-home care. Poor oral hygiene can also lead to discoloration. Plaque buildup can stain teeth and eventually may lead to dental decay. 

If you're not sure why your teeth look gray or yellow, a dental exam can reveal an underlying cause—such as enamel erosion or plaque buildup. Not only can the dentist diagnose the cause of the discoloration, but they can also help you to choose the most effective treatment. Internal discoloration and yellowing from exposed dentin will not respond to at-home surface-level whiteners. 

You've Tried At-Home Treatments and They Have Already Failed

Have you already tried a whitening gel or paste? If these products haven't helped to whiten your teeth, it's likely that you haven't found the right underlying cause or are using the wrong whitening option. If over-the-counter whiteners have left your teeth just as yellow or stained as before, it's time to visit the dentist's office for professional advice or a stronger product.

Your Teeth Are Too Sensitive

At-home whitening products can add to tooth sensitivity—especially if you're not sure how to use them or use them incorrectly. Enamel erosion can also cause dental sensitivity in general or when whitening your teeth. 

If an over-the-counter product makes your teeth sensitive or uncomfortable, stop using the whitener and contact your dentist. They may need to look for a cause (such as enamel erosion) or may recommend alternative whitening options.  

Contact a local dentist to learn more.