3 Medical Reasons You May Have Discoloured Teeth

Posted on: 25 August 2017


Many people are embarrassed about their yellow teeth, which they worry can make them look less attractive and make them look older than they are. However there are a range of medical conditions that can cause teeth yellowing that are out of your control. 

High fevers during the time that teeth are forming

If you have a high fever during your early years, while the teeth are still forming in the gums, this can lead to yellow teeth as an adult. Often it can be hard to remember these events, but your parents may be able to fill you in on the details of any childhood illnesses that may have affected your teeth. 

Tetracycline antibiotics usage (by mother or child)

Tetracycline antibiotics were some of the earliest antibiotics to be released and have fallen out of popularity, as many bacteria are now resistant to them. However, they are still used for certain, specific infections such as parasitic infections including malaria, Lyme disease and rickets, so some people are still exposed to them, especially people who have grown up in rural or tropical locations. They can lead to yellowing or staining of teeth when either the person has used them, or the mother uses them during the second trimester of pregnancy. While this is an unfortunate side effect, these medications only tend to be used as a last resort when other treatments options have not worked. 

Other medical issues

There are a range of metabolic issues that can lead to teeth discolouration, including alkaptonuria, which is a genetic disorder that leads to a buildup of brown homogentisic acid in the teeth. Porphyria can also lead to teeth discolouration, as the red blood cells are not filtered from the body and often build up in the bones and teeth as a brown internal staining or mottling. 

There are a range of medical treatments that can lead to yellow teeth, including radiation or chemotherapy for head, neck, or facial tumours. These can be painful, and the after-effects of discoloured teeth can be distressing for some patients who find it a lasting reminder of their illness. 

Many people are embarrassed by discoloured teeth and find them an ongoing reminder of their medical issues. If you want to brighten your smile, it can be worth seeing a dentist and exploring which tooth whitening options might be most effective for you to brighten your smile and get white teeth again.