Will I have to live my whole life with a yellow smile?

We’ve all experienced this scenario at some point in our lives. When we go to brush our teeth, we look in the mirror and find ourselves with a yellow smile, which makes us embarrassed and hide the way we smile naturally. We are our worst critics, we amplify the problem, but it is true that the teeth turn yellow and, in some people, this coloration is quite pronounced.

Have you ever wondered why that is?

The good news is that yellowish teeth are not a sign of a serious problem with your teeth – just an aesthetic problem. To achieve a smile capable of improving self-confidence, we have several treatments that make it possible to recover the color of your teeth, reaching a bright white color.

The starting point is to know why the teeth are turning yellow. The aesthetic issues of yellow teeth can be associated with a simple cause and in some cases involve more complex issues. Once the cause has been identified, we study the best way to correct it.

The main causes that cause yellow teeth:



Sometimes we only think about the genetic cause when we rule out all other hypotheses. Yellow teeth can be a familiar feature. If our parents tend to have yellow teeth, we are more likely to have yellow teeth ourselves.

The color of the teeth varies widely and depends on the shade, chroma and value. Some teeth are naturally gray, reddish gray, reddish brown, yellow and reddish yellow. The color variations are usually within this spectrum, but the teeth are not always white.


In many cases, those seeking aesthetic dentistry are patients with yellow teeth, often associated with variations in dentin visibility.

Dentin is a yellowish or brownish tissue beneath the enamel. Often, when the tooth enamel becomes thinner for any reason, the dentin manifests itself and the yellowish or brownish color becomes more evident.


This factor is inevitable. We all get older and, as we do, our teeth start to lose their enamel due to wear.

Acidic foods and drinks that we consume daily and the mechanics of chewing are factors that lead to the progressive loss of enamel. As mentioned earlier, this allows the dentin to appear more clearly.


Nicotine, one of the most dominant ingredients in tobacco products, particularly cigarettes – causes lung problems and cancer, in addition to several other diseases. Nicotine also causes a yellow-brown discoloration that is very difficult to remove from teeth, especially in active smokers.


Plenty of food stains the teeth. Berries, some spices like pepper powder, and vegetables like spinach and tomatoes can stain your teeth over time. The pigments of these foods adhere to the enamel, leaving the teeth discolored.


Antibiotics like ciprofloxacin, doxycycline or tetracycline and other antibiotics can cause stains on teeth during treatment. Antihistamines, Lisinopril, Escitalopram and Seroquel can also stain teeth.

This can even affect small children and babies in utero. The National Institute of Health has done a survey where it states that when antibiotics such as doxycycline are taken during the second half of pregnancy, or before the age of eight, they can cause a permanent pigmentation of the teeth, requiring aesthetic dental treatment to correct it.


Excessive exposure to fluoride can cause fluorosis. This problem causes the teeth to turn brown or yellow, resulting from consuming the main sources of fluoride – water treated with fluoride, toothpaste and tablets with fluoride.


A dental trauma, which causes irreversible damage to the teeth, leading to the fracture of the dental enamel and damage to the inner layers of the teeth, can cause a reddish pigmentation, which can be a sign of bleeding. This problem needs medical treatment.


Bruxism is just a medical term for the habit of grinding your teeth.  As a rule, it is a habit that comes from excessive stress, usually happening during sleep (night bruxism). But there is also daytime bruxism. It can weaken the enamel, leading to fracture and yellowing.


Sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide

Using toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide can reduce the yellowing of teeth.

A 2012 study found that the use of a toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate and hydrogen peroxide reduces tooth color and improves whitening.

Vitamin C

A 2007 study found that vitamin C deficiency can exacerbate periodontitis, in other words, bacterial proliferation in teeth and gums. This contributes to the discoloration of teeth.

Further research is needed into whether vitamin C intake can have an effect on tooth whitening.

Fruit enzymes

When added to toothpaste, some fruit enzymes can help improve yellow teeth.

A 2012 study found that kinds of toothpaste containing the enzymes of papaya and pineapple help remove dental stains.

Apple vinegar

When used in small quantities, apple vinegar can reduce stains on the teeth and improve the white color of the tooth.

A 2014 study found that apple vinegar has a whitening effect on teeth.

Apple vinegar can damage the surface of teeth when used too often due to its acidity.

Coconut Oil

A 2015 study found that coconut oil can be an effective method to reduce plaque in teeth. The accumulation of plaque contributes to the yellowing of teeth.


When the stains on your teeth are a little more severe, professional dental treatment may be necessary to correct any pigmentation.

– Dental bleaching at home

– Laser dental bleaching

– Ceramic facets or veneers

The teeth turn slightly yellow as the person gets older and the enamel gets more worn.

Yellowing associated with plaque buildup can be reduced with efficient and regular oral hygiene. Avoiding food that can stain your teeth is also a solution that prevents yellowing.

The best way to keep your teeth healthy is a healthy diet and a good oral hygiene routine.

Dr. Tiago Ribeiro

Dr. Tiago Ribeiro

Graduated in Dental Medicine in 2007 at the I.S.C.S.E.M. – Monte de Caparica – Portugal

Registered in the O.M.D. – Portugal (the Portuguese correspondent with the British General Dental Council) since August 2007

Private Practice in Oral and Aesthetic Complex Rehabilitation (Implants and Teeth)

Clinical Director of the Center for Aesthetics and Oral Rehabilitation of Lisbon – C.E.R.O. – Almada

Responsible for the Department of Oral Rehabilitation of the Center for Aesthetics and Oral Rehabilitation, Lisbon and Almada

Plastic –Esthetic Periodontal and Implant Surgery – University Complutense Madrid

Orthodontic and dental-facial Orthopedics – International Institute of Medical & Dental Science

Guest monitor of Biophysic in Dentistry Course in ISCS – Egas Moniz in years 2005/2006 and 2006/2007.

Advanced course in Botulinum Toxin (Botox) and Hyaluronic acid injections – Med – Estetic Madrid

Clinical Review in Occlusion Assessment

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