10 Causes of Tooth Discoloration in Teenagers

Tooth whitening for teens with tooth discoloration

Why would a teenager need professional tooth whitening?

The majority of us consider our smile to be our most important social feature. It’s often the first thing someone notices, after all. Almost everyone ends up with a form of tooth staining at some point in their life, whether it is yellowing due to age or visible marks due to injuries. Tooth discoloration is quite common and the effect it has on our daily lives and how we feel about ourselves makes dental whitening a very common practice. 

Though regular dental staining isn’t typically noticeable until adulthood, it can sometimes strike at a young age. As long as their adult teeth are in place and any orthodontic work has been completed, your teenager might be eligible for professional whitening. 

But what are the reasons a teenager might need professional tooth whitening in the first place?

1. Medications

Sometimes, professional whitening is necessary due to medication use. Certain medications can contribute to staining, including antihistamines like Benadryl, antihypertensive drugs, or antipsychotic drugs. Now, this does not mean your teen should stop taking any medication given to them by their doctor—quite the opposite. You should always discuss your concerns with their doctor first, but it pays to be aware and give those teeth a little extra TLC. 

2. Braces

Discoloration caused by braces is typically preventable by a thorough oral hygiene routine, though it sometimes happens anyway. Teenagers are learning how to care for their teeth properly, and braces add an additional complication they need to navigate. If those pesky stains made their mark while your teen wore braces, professional tooth whitening can help! 

3. Foods

A diet high in acidic foods can cause teeth discoloration. Some of the common culprits include pasta sauce, berries, and curry. There are certain foods you can pair with them that will help reduce any staining. For example, if you eat a salad filled with dark green lettuce before you chow down on that spaghetti, it can help create a film over your teeth to prevent staining.  

4. Drinks

More than likely, you’ve heard this one before. Certain things we drink can contribute to dental discoloration. Drinks like coffee, tea, and cola are common culprits. But did you know that certain fruit juices like berry and grape flavors can also stain teeth? Some techniques your teen can implement to reduce this include drinking through a straw and limiting their consumption of these drinks. But if your teen’s teeth have already been discolored by dark liquids, then teeth whitening could help. 

5. Irregular Cleaning

It is important that your teen doesn’t slack on their regular dental cleanings—whether at home or at the dentist. When they forget to brush or floss their teeth, that plaque and bacteria are all ready to set up shop. Going to the dentist regularly can help catch anything before it becomes an issue, lessening the chances that professional whitening will be necessary. 

6. Self-esteem Boost

A smile is usually the first thing someone notices when they meet you. Teenagers are typically self-conscious about their appearance already, and having stains or discolorations on their teeth doesn’t help with this. If it can be fixed through whitening, this can remove just one more worry from their shoulders.

7. Genetics

Genetics make up absolutely everything about us—including the color of our teeth. If a parent is predisposed to having stains and discoloration on their teeth, it will more than likely pass down to the child. If your teen has yellowed teeth due to genetics, they may find that store-bought whitening toothpastes are ineffective, and that professional tooth whitening is required to brighten their teeth. 

8. Injury

Just as big falls can leave scars on our bodies, injuries can also leave marks on our teeth. If a trauma happens to a child’s mouth before the age of eight, it can affect how the enamel forms on their adult teeth. Sometimes, this can be as simple as an accident at soccer practice, or a fall from the monkey bars if the impact is severe enough to decrease the blood flow to the tooth. 

9. Medical Conditions

Certain illnesses and medical conditions can contribute to the yellowing of teeth, including hepatitis and jaundice. For example, if your child suffered from jaundice when they were born, there is a chance that their first teeth will be discolored from it. If your child has undergone head or neck chemotherapy or radiation, this can also discolor their teeth. 

10. Fluoride

If teeth are exposed to an excessive amount of fluoride, it can cause discoloration. This typically happens within the first eight years of life, when the enamel is still forming that protective barrier on the teeth. This is called fluorosis and is not damaging to your health. 

Pediatric Dental Specialists can help your teen regain a bright, white smile. 

Whether your child is eligible for professional dental whitening or not will be determined by its severity. Your child’s dentist will be able to determine whether the discoloration is due to lifestyle factors, such as drinking too much coffee, or if there might be more involved. They will then be able to choose the perfect whitening method for your teenager. 

If you think your teenager might be in need of professional dental whitening, don’t be afraid to reach out! We are always here to answer any questions you or your family might have.