What If My Teeth Aren’t All the Same Color?

Sep 17, 2014, by Dr. Becky Coats

People tend to be very concerned about discoloration of their teeth, which is why teeth whitening is one of the most popular procedures in cosmetic dentistry. If you are concerned about the staining of your teeth and look at your teeth closely enough, you might notice that your teeth don’t seem like they’re all the same color, with some of them being much brighter than others. In many cases, this is natural.

Natural Variation in Tooth Color

Our natural teeth have significant variations in color, which is partly by design. Because we tend to display them more when we smile, our upper (maxillary) teeth are usually brighter and whiter–not to mention larger–than lower (mandibular) teeth. Our upper central incisors–the wide, flat teeth in the center of your smile–tend to be the whitest and brightest of all our teeth.

The least bright of our display teeth tend to be our canines. They are more likely to be yellowish, but they’re not really yellow. They just have deep color saturation because they have thicker enamel, especially the upper canines. Our upper canines have thicker enamel than our incisors, and thicker enamel than all our teeth except our molars. It’s likely this is a holdover from when canines were weapons or were relied on to crack nuts or other tough foods.

So if you are noticing some variation among your natural teeth, that’s expected and normal.

Causes of Localized Discoloration

Sometimes, though, you may experience discoloration of some of your natural teeth. Often, the cause for this can be found.

Smoking is a common culprit for discoloration of just a few teeth. As you draw the staining smoke into your mouth, it will discolor the teeth that are in the the center and forward part of your smile, especially those large, central incisors that are supposed to be bright white.

Staining beverages can also cause discoloration of these teeth, especially hot coffee or tea which is sipped. If you want to reduce the amount of discoloration this causes, you can use a straw to drink staining beverages, which is also good for reducing the contact between your teeth and the sugars and acids found in these drinks.

An injured tooth may also turn discolored. This may be because the development of the enamel is affected, or because the tooth root suffers injury or potentially even dies.

Other times, some teeth may have enamel irregularities that cause them to look discolored.

Correcting Irregular Tooth Discoloration

Teeth whitening works great for correcting some types of stains–such as food, beverage, or smoking stains–whether they are on all or just a few teeth. However, if you have enamel irregularities or damage to the tooth nerve, porcelain veneers may be recommended to improve the color of those teeth.

To learn more about correcting discolored teeth and other problems with your smile, please call 817-442-3331 for an appointment with a Grapevine cosmetic dentist at Grapevine Dental Care.