Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness with Age?

Nov 02, 2023
Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness with Age?
Have you ever wondered why your teeth lose their sparkling whiteness as you age? In this article, we break down the science behind tooth discoloration and provide practical steps to help you get the shine back. 

It’s natural to want to prevent the signs of aging. In doing so, most people spend time and effort on skin care and fitness, often overlooking their teeth. However, the yellowing of a smile is one of the most apparent signs of aging. 

There are many reasons why teeth can lose their luster with age. The good news is there are ways to get the gleam back. From deep cleaning to professional teeth whitening, Nancy Horton, DMD, and our team at OneSource Dental of South Tampa in Tampa, Florida, offer many ways to help patients smile with pride.

In this article, we help you better understand why teeth lose their whiteness and what you can do about it.

The basics of a tooth

A tooth is made up of three primary layers. The innermost layer is called the pulp, and it consists largely of nerves and blood vessels. The second layer is called the dentin, which is yellow in color. And the third layer is the enamel, which is white in color.

The causes of discoloration

Several factors can contribute to the discoloration of your teeth as you age. Some common factors include the following:

Thinning enamel

With age, the enamel thins. This can occur due to years of chewing, exposure to acids from food and drinks, and poor oral hygiene habits. The thinning enamel makes teeth more translucent, which allows the darker dentin layer to show through, leading to a duller appearance.

Medications and treatments

Drugs, such as tetracycline and minocycline, can darken teeth if used for prolonged periods. Furthermore, radiation or chemotherapy — especially if targeted at the head and neck — can have a similar effect.


Consuming certain substances, such as coffee, tea, berries, red wine, or soy sauce, can darken teeth over time.

Tobacco use

Smoking or using other tobacco products can lead to staining over time.

Poor oral hygiene habits

If you don’t take care of your teeth well, plaque can build up, which can lead to staining.

Treatment and prevention

Here are ways you can help get the sparkle back in your smile.

Regular dental visits

Routine dental checkups are even more crucial as you get older. During these visits, we can identify early signs of problems, such as enamel wear or gum disease, that might contribute to discoloration. Moreover, regular cleanings can remove surface stains and plaque, giving your teeth a brighter appearance.

Professional teeth whitening

While drugstore teeth-whitening kits can be a quick fix, there are more effective long-term solutions. At OneSource Dental of South Tampa, we provide teeth-whitening treatments that are much more powerful than what can be bought at the store. Our treatments can reliably make your teeth many shades whiter.

Veneers and crowns

If teeth whitening treatments can’t whiten your front teeth, veneers can be the ideal solution. Veneers are thin shells made of porcelain that go on the fronts of the teeth you can see when you smile. Or, if you have a badly damaged tooth, a crown may be a better option. A crown surrounds the entire tooth to help reinforce it. Both veneers and crowns can be tinted to the desired color.  

Good oral hygiene habits

A proper oral hygiene routine should include brushing twice daily, flossing, and using mouthwash. This can help maintain your teeth's natural color. Using specialized toothpaste for sensitive or discolored teeth can also be beneficial.

Diet and lifestyle choices

Consuming acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and carbonated drinks, can speed up the thinning of enamel. Foods rich in tannins, such as red wine and coffee, can also stain your teeth. Smoking is another primary culprit behind tooth discoloration. Being mindful of these things can significantly slow down the discoloration of your teeth.

Aging is a natural process, and it affects all parts of the body, including your teeth. However, getting regular checkups, developing a proper oral hygiene regimen, and asking our providers about our teeth whitening services, veneers, or crowns, can help you get and maintain a bright, healthy smile. 

So, if your teeth are not as white as they once were, call 813-879-9299 or book an appointment online with OneSource Dental of South Tampa today.