Why are my teeth yellow?


There are many reasons why teeth can be different colours. But let’s start with yellow… that’s the one most people complain about.

How your teeth are built

shutterstock_92637190Teeth have two layers: enamel on the top, dentine underneath.

Enamel is translucent i.e. light can shine through it. Dentine is yellow and opaque.

So the most likely reason for your teeth to look yellow is that it is the dentine is “showing through” the thin enamel.

You may be able to see this for yourself in the mirror. Do you have one handy?


If you lift up your upper lip, you should be able to see your canine teeth. They are the pointy big ones…count three teeth along from the middle.

Do they look slightly yellow to you?

If so, this is because the inner layer of yellow dentine in canine teeth is very thick…which is what makes them such big thick teeth (…all the better to bite you with…).

The enamel layer on top, however, is quite thin. Making them look a bit yellow.

When dentists make crowns or veneers on these teeth, they sometimes ask their technicians to actually make them slightly darker, as this is a more “natural” look.

So if you think your teeth are “yellow”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are dirty or stained or defective in any way. It just may be the way your teeth are naturally. It’s what makes you you!


There are reasons why there maybe be something wrong with teeth if they are yellow…or blue, grey or brown…many colours are possible!

Certain drugs, some mouthwashes, diseases in childhood and genetic conditions can all cause abnormalities in tooth colour.

Can I still have them whitened?

You need to see a qualified dentist for that answer.

It is important that the cause of for your teeth discolouration is identified so that you can get the right advice on whether tooth lightening is going to safe and effective. If it is just your “normal” dental anatomy, it may be best just to accept them as they are.

If whitening is a safe option for you, which of the many available techniques is best for your type of discolouration?

You need a professional in the dental field to advise and provide treatment. Don’t go to  a beauty salon or a hair dresser for tooth lightening. They are not qualified dental personnel.

Or to put it another way…would you let your dentist cut your hair?

About Cleveland Orthodontics

Our specialist-led practice has been established since 1996 and provides brace treatment to people of all ages from across the North East and Teesside, including Middlesbrough, Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham and Redcar.

We offer NHS orthodontic treatment for children and a range of modern white and “invisible” braces for adults of all ages such as Invisalign. FREE consultations are available… you can either telephone for an appointment on 01642 243 020 or book through our website.