Search

Tooth - abnormal colors

Definition

Abnormal tooth color is any color other than the white to yellowish-white of normal teeth.

Alternative Names

Discolored teeth; Tooth discoloration; Tooth pigmentation

Considerations

Many different things can cause tooth discoloration. The change in color may affect the entire tooth, or just appear as spots or lines in the tooth enamel.

Your genes influence your tooth color. Other things that can affect tooth color include:

  • Congenital diseases
  • Environmental factors
  • Infections

Inherited diseases may affect the thickness of enamel or the calcium or protein content of the enamel, which can cause color changes. Metabolic diseases may cause changes in tooth color and shape.

Drugs and medications either taken by the mother while pregnant or by the child during the time of tooth development can cause changes in both the color and hardness of the enamel.

Common Causes

  • Antibiotic tetracycline use before age 8
  • Eating or drinking items that temporarily stain the teeth, such as tea or coffee
  • Genetic defects that affect the tooth enamel, such as dentinogenesis and amelogenesis
  • High fever at an age when teeth are forming
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Porphyria
  • Severe neonatal jaundice
  • Too much fluoride from environmental sources (natural high water fluoride levels) or overuse of fluoride rinses, toothpaste, and fluoride supplements

Home Care

Good oral hygiene will help if the teeth are stained from a food or fluid, or if the abnormal color is the result of poor hygiene.

It is appropriate to consult your dentist for abnormally colored teeth. However, if the color seems to be related to a medical condition, your regular health care provider should also be consulted.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • Teeth appear to be an abnormal color without cause
  • Abnormal tooth color lasts even after practicing good oral hygiene

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The dentist will examine the teeth and ask questions about the symptoms. Questions may include:

  • Time pattern
  • Diet
  • Medication history
  • Health history and family history
  • Fluoride exposure
  • Oral hygiene habits
  • What other symptoms are also present?

Testing may not be necessary in many cases. However, if the health care provider suspects the coloration may be related to a medical condition, testing may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. Dental x-rays may be taken.

Encyclopedia content is provided as information only and not intended to replace the advice and instruction from your personal physician.