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Why Are My Teeth Yellow?

Cartoon of a man with yellow teeth surrounded by tooth staining substances.
Image by Authority Dental under CC 2.0

Are your teeth not as white as you would like? Do they look yellow? You’re not alone! Many people have a yellow tint to their smile. Here are some of the most common reasons.


Smoking often leads to yellow teeth. The tar and nicotine sink into your tooth enamel and cause discoloration. The tar gives your teeth a brown color, while the nicotine combines with oxygen to create a yellow shade. It can be very challenging to remove tar and nicotine stains, so the best thing you can do is quit smoking.


Certain foods are more likely to cause stains than others. Tannins are a common culprit. These compounds are found in red wine, coffee, and black tea. Acidic foods like tomatoes, soy sauce, soft drinks, and brightly colored fruits can also cause discoloration. So can curry, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Drinking lots of water and frequent brushing after meals can help mitigate the staining caused by foods and beverages.

Certain medications

Unfortunately, a handful of medications list tooth discoloration as a side effect. Antihistamines, heart medications, and certain antibiotics may cause yellowing, but severity varies. Please talk to your primary doctor or to Dr. Greyslak if you’re concerned.

Poor oral hygiene

Sometimes, yellow teeth have a simple cause: you aren’t taking proper care of your smile. Plaque and tartar have a naturally yellow/brown tint and become stained by what you eat and drink. You can address this by improving your brushing and flossing. Professional cleanings are also an essential part of maintaining good oral hygiene!

Addressing yellow teeth at Corvallis Dental Group in Corvallis, OR

Most causes of yellow teeth – including the changes that come with normal aging – can be addressed with improved oral hygiene or professional teeth whitening. Professional whitening is a highly effective, safe treatment that can remove deeper stains. If your teeth have stains that can’t be removed by whitening, we also offer dental veneers. If you have questions about what causes yellow teeth or want to book an appointment with Dr. Greyslak or Dr. Rose, please contact our office today!

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