Tooth Discolouration – Causes and Prevention
lady brushing her teeth

It is very common for teeth to become discoloured, for children and adults. You should ensure your child visits the dentist early if they show signs of discolouration. The term discolouration can be thought of stains occurring on teeth and a darkening of the tooth shade. When you smile, discolouration can be become embarrassing and make you feel self-conscious about your smile. This can lower self-confidence and keep your smile hidden. Teeth are normally perfectly white and although it is natural that the colour of teeth become dull as we age, you don’t want this to happen early due to external factors.

Below are the types of discolouration, or staining stages and the causes of them.

teeth whitening


Extrinsic tooth discolouration occurs when the outer layer of the enamel, the protective layer to your teeth, becomes exposed to substances. This then darkens the enamel and subsequently darkens your teeth. The common causes include:

  • Consumption of alcohol and tobacco
  • Dark liquids such as coffee, sodas and wine
  • Dark foods such as fruits and berries, sugar sweets, and red meat
  • Sauces flavourings


Intrinsic tooth discolouration occurs when the inner structure of the tooth, known as the dentin, becomes discoloured. This leads to the shade of your teeth to darken into usually a yellow colour. The common causes include:

  • Trauma experienced to the tooth
  • Physical injury impacting the tooth, exposing the structure to chips and cracks, exposing the structure
  • Exposure to fluoride during childhood years
  • Teeth becoming decayed


A natural way for teeth to darken is through age. The enamel begins to wear away resulting in the yellow appearance. The pace of this happening can factor from extrinsic and intrinsic discolouration.

Colour Staining

The surface stains on the teeth lead to teeth becoming discoloured in the following ways:

  • Yellow – Through a poor diet of dark foods and liquids, poor oral hygiene and dry mouth
  • Brown – Through regular tobacco consumption, a poor diet of dark foods and liquids, tartar and tooth decay
  • Black – Black sports can form on teeth due to dental cavities and sulfide fillings or crowns.

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How Do I Prevent It?

Discolouration can be halted by taking vital oral hygiene steps at home. The following tips can help:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste two times a day
  • Rinse the mouth after every meal, particularly after consuming foods with high levels of sugar to wash away any food debris
  • Book regular dental check-up appointments with the dentist
  • Reduce consumption of tobacco or reduce smoking all together
  • When drinking beverages, ensure the liquid doesn’t touch teeth. Use a straw when consuming beverages
  • Ensure you speak to your dentist if you or your child suffer from any conditions that may impact teeth, such as teeth grinding

As part of a dental check-up, the dentist may prescribe in-office teeth whitening treatment to get you started on your journey for a whiter smile. Click here to learn how teeth whitening can reduce discolouration.

Are you in need of dental treatment? Contact our Sunbury Dentists today and begin your dental journey to a happy and healthy smile.