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Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness As You Age?

Why Do Teeth Lose Their Whiteness As You Age?

Growing older can come with lots of surprises. Some are often obvious, like those first gray hairs. But others can be more of a shock — like teeth you no longer have anything to smile about.

In reality, it’s natural for teeth to become generally darker or more yellow with each passing year. And, no, it’s probably not because of anything you did wrong. Instead, it’s typically related to the natural aging process. 

But that doesn’t mean you have to learn to live with it.

At Union Square Dental, Dr. Kateryna Grytsenko and Dr. Yuliya Kanatova understand the root causes of age-related teeth discoloration — and the impact it can have on your self-confidence. That’s why we offer numerous methods to help you get a brighter, whiter smile. 

Has your smile lost its luster? This month, we examine the two primary causes of tooth discoloration to help you regain the smile you love. 

Understanding tooth discoloration 

All tooth discoloration is not the same. It comes in two forms that can contribute to age-related tooth changes

Extrinsic staining

Extrinsic staining is the most common cause of tooth discoloration. It affects the enamel — or the outer “shell” of your teeth. 

Most people develop extrinsic staining from substances they eat or drink, like tea, coffee, dark sodas, and tomato sauce. However, another common source involves tobacco products and smoking.

Intrinsic tooth staining

Unlike extrinsic staining, intrinsic tooth stains occur inside the teeth — specifically in the layer underneath the enamel known as the dentin.

While dentin naturally has a yellowish hue, it grows darker when stains set in. This staining typically develops from genetics, excessive fluoride in childhood, antibiotic overuse, and tooth injury. 

Aging and tooth discoloration

When tooth discoloration occurs with age, it’s often from both extrinsic and intrinsic staining. It can also have multiple causes. 

First, tooth enamel naturally grows thinner with age. Unfortunately, this change leaves the dentin more visible, so teeth look darker or more yellowed than they once did. 

However, dentin also darkens with age because the inner pulp chamber in the tooth shrinks. In response, the dentin grows thicker and more prominent.

Finally, people also make less saliva with advancing age. This substance provides crucial tooth-nourishing minerals that protect the enamel. 

This lack of saliva leaves teeth more vulnerable to the staining particles found in beverages, foods, and smoking. 

Solving tooth discoloration 

Ready for the good news?

Tooth discoloration may be a normal part of aging, but you can fight it — it starts with your diet and daily habits. 

You may not be able to stop the clock, but you can control many of the main factors that lead to tooth discoloration. 

Try limiting items that cause extrinsic staining, like dark beverages and other foods and drinks. And, of course, it’s never too late to stop smoking. Not only will it keep your teeth whiter for longer, but it can also help you avoid serious health risks later in life. 

In addition to these habits, Union Square Dental offers professional cleanings and teeth whitening services that can brighten up a smile. Professional whitening can provide dramatic results during a single office visit. 

But that’s not all. We also have solutions for stubborn, intrinsic staining that may not respond to teeth whitening. We could suggest a cosmetic tooth restoration treatment, like custom-crafted veneers for those cases. 

We’re here to help you get your smile back. And once you have results you love, we can offer strategies that keep it looking bright and healthy well into the future. 

Are you tired of your tooth discoloration? Call Union Square Dental or book online to schedule your consultation.

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