Table of Content
Orange Teeth: Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options
by Dylan Hao |
You’ve heard of yellow and brown tooth discoloration, but now your teeth are turning — orange? What gives?
Yes, it’s a real thing. In this world of Insta-influencers and perfectly white smiles, many “normal” people have teeth that lean more toward orange than eggshell. Unlike the orange from cheap self-tanners, this problem happens gradually, and you may not even notice it creeping up on you until it’s too late.
This condition happens for various reasons, and, in many cases, it’s fixable. So what’s the story behind “orange teeth,” and how can you prevent or get rid of it? We have the answers to those questions and more.
What Causes Orange Teeth?
Understanding why your teeth are the color they are — whatever shade they may be — starts with learning about tooth anatomy.
Most of us know that our teeth are made up of the parts we see and the roots connecting them to our jaws. In between those main components, there’s an entire community of smaller mechanisms helping you chew and talk.
The Structure of a Tooth and How That Determines Color
Let’s start with the most obvious part of the tooth: the enamel. This is the transparent outer layer that we see, and it’s made up of minerals making your tooth harder than bone. It’s possible to chip or crack enamel, but not easily. This visible part is, in dentistry terms, called the crown.
Enamel has a purpose beyond providing you with a nice smile. It protects the inner layers of your tooth, the dentin and pulp, which are also part of the crown.
Dentin is made up of microscopic tubules (tubes) that are yellowish-brown. Because enamel is clear, the color of the dentin is what determines the shade of your teeth.
As enamel erodes, dentin loses its protective cover. The tubules that had once defended your pulp from heat, cold, sugars, and acids now allow those dangers into the soft tissue in the tooth’s center.
This is what causes tooth sensitivity, as it’s where the connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves are located.
Thinning enamel also contributes to the color of your smile. Since dentin is naturally yellow, our teeth look less white without the protection of thick enamel.
Read more: Why is My Night Guard Turning Yellow?
Factors That Cause Tooth Discoloration
Your dentin has a natural shade that develops as your teeth grow. Other external and internal factors can cause those shades to change, becoming darker (like orange) or lighter when using whitening agents.
Regularly exposing your teeth to certain foods and beverages makes it more likely to have discolored enamel. The most popular culprits include (but aren’t limited to) the following:
- Coffee, tea, and other dark beverages
- Red, blue, and black foods and drinks, such as berries, sauce, and wine
- Sugary and acidic items, including white wine, soda, balsamic vinegar, candy, juice, and sports drinks
- Citrus fruits and beverages with citric acid in them
- Soy sauce and curry
- Items with food coloring in them
These extrinsic stains can usually be scrubbed away with good daily oral hygiene.
However, discoloration can also happen because of tobacco habits and poor oral hygiene routines. Both create stubborn stains that need more in-depth treatments to fix.
Another reason for discoloration could be from internal catalysts. These cause discoloration below the surface, inside your tooth.
Examples of internal changes include trauma to the tooth or jaw, some medications (particularly tetracycline), and certain health conditions.
Internal discoloration usually can’t be fixed, but it can be covered up with special dental accessories, such as veneers.
On the other hand, orange teeth caused by external factors can be prevented and reduced if you know the tricks.
How to Prevent Orange Teeth
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Applying that to your teeth simply means that if you take care of your oral hygiene, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of discolored teeth, tooth decay, and painful dental visits.
Have a Good Dental Routine
Prevention starts at home with your daily dental routine.
Brush your teeth at least twice daily using toothpaste with fluoride and a soft-bristled toothbrush (unless your dentist tells you otherwise). Floss once a day, and use mouthwash to get rid of any excess bacteria you missed when brushing.
Schedule Regular Checkups and Cleanings
Schedule bi- or semi-annual checkups with your dentist. You’ll not only get the incredible feeling of deeply cleaned teeth, but they'll monitor your oral health and look for warning signs of problems long before they happen.
If your teeth are becoming discolored, a good scraping and scrubbing with professional tools can pull off external stains.
Quit Bad Habits
In the meantime, if you have those bad habits mentioned above, like eating and drinking staining ingredients or using tobacco, try to quit or avoid them.
If you don’t want to give up your favorite beverage, use a straw instead of drinking from the container to minimize how much of the liquid hits the teeth surfaces.
When you’re a tobacco user who can’t (or doesn’t want to) quit, it’s extra crucial that you brush your teeth frequently throughout the day and make those regular dental cleanings a priority.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chew sugar-free gum with whitening properties to pull staining agents from your enamel. This activates the salivary glands, washing away any particles that could cause stains. The gum can also coat the tooth enamel and prevent particles from sticking to it.
What Can You Do if Your Teeth Are Already Orange?
What if you already have orange tooth stains? What can you do to get rid of them?
The solution depends on exactly how ingrained those stains are into your enamel.
When it comes to whitening treatments, you have a vast range of products to choose from, including at-home simple fixes all the way up to professional dental office-only services.
First, let’s take a good look at your teeth. Are those stains only orange and yellow, or are there some black stains hiding (or visible) on some of the surfaces?
If you see black, it could be a warning that tooth decay and cavities are making their way through your mouth, and you may need fillings to stop the spread.
When that’s a possible situation, it’s important to skip the at-home whitening methods and head to your dentist for a check-up first. Those cavities and decaying teeth could cause further complications, resulting in expensive and uncomfortable dental fixes, like root canals or extractions. And, if the dentin and pulp are exposed, adding a whitening agent to that opening is a quick recipe for increased tooth sensitivity and pain.
Once you’re sure there’s no underlying dental issue going on, you can choose from a variety of the following tooth whitening options.
Barely noticeable stains are probably light enough to scrub off with a whitening toothpaste. Look for brands approved by the American Dental Association. These will have a low percentage of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, bleaching agents that are safe and effective whiteners.
Natural toothpastes can work well, too. These have substances like baking soda or coconut oil (in place of peroxide) as a bleaching agent and can be found with and without fluoride.
More stubborn stains can be removed with a whitening kit or strips, often found over the counter. These use more powerful concentrations of hydrogen and carbamide peroxide, applied by a strip or gel stored in a tray that sits over your teeth. You leave the applicator on the enamel for the time specified in the instructions, remove it, and rinse.
The downside of OTC whitening products is that they can cause increased tooth and gum sensitivity, particularly if you don’t follow the directions exactly as instructed.
Custom Whitening Kits
Since OTC products are designed to fit the general population, the bleaching agent frequently spreads beyond the front teeth. It touches the gum line and other soft tissue in your mouth, irritating them and not hitting all the edges and crevices in your uniquely-shaped smile.
Overusing these products may lead to permanently damaged enamel and gum disease, and can even cause discoloration.
You can avoid these side effects by using customized, professional whitening kits with high-quality ingredients, like those your dentist may provide. But between the office visit and the whitening treatment, you can expect to pay hundreds of dollars for this fix.
The perfect compromise for professional teeth whitening kits customized to your teeth without the hefty price tag is our JS Dental Lab version.
We use the highest quality ingredients, delivering a custom-made whitening tray to your door. Whiten your teeth in the comfort of your home at your convenience without the harmful damage from one-size-fits-all kits.
How to Keep Your Teeth White Going Forward
Once you’ve worked hard to lighten your teeth, you want to keep them that way.
As mentioned, you should only use products with whitening agents for a short time. After that, there are other ways you can avoid discoloring your newly-whitened enamel.
Just as there are foods you should stay away from, others can actually help keep your teeth pearly white.
Indulge in these healthy, enamel-brightening meals for long-lasting whiter teeth:
- Strawberries: Mash up and rub them on the crown’s surfaces. Letting the mixture stay on the enamel for five minutes before rinsing gives the malic acid, a whitening enzyme, a chance to naturally brighten your teeth.
- Apples, carrots, and celery: These have specific properties that activate your salivary glands to wash off particles. The extra crunch also scrubs the enamel while you chew.
- Dairy products (specifically cheese, milk, and yogurt): These have proteins that may bind to the teeth and prevent decay that would otherwise discolor it. Hard cheese can also remove food particles to help keep your teeth white.
Eating is a necessary part of life, but what you choose to put in your mouth will help determine how long your teeth stay white. Enjoy these delicious whitening foods, and avoid the ones that will stain your freshly-cleaned smile.
In addition to keeping your daily oral care up and eating the right foods, be sure to attend those regular dental cleanings.
The hygienist will use special tools to remove any surface stains, plaque, or tartar buildup on your teeth, immediately brightening your smile. The dentist will catch any early signs of decay or other oral health concerns before they become serious problems.
You can also add an occasional whitening treatment to your routine once a year to touch up your enamel and prevent orange teeth from rearing up again.
We all want that movie-star quality shade of dazzling white teeth, but it does not come naturally for most of us. Instead, we tend to have teeth that err on the shade of yellow, or discolor to brown and orange.
Luckily, there are safe whitening treatments that can brighten your smile and give you teeth you’re proud to show off.
Once you know what’s causing your discolored shades, contact JS Dental Lab for a custom teeth whitening kit that will get you impressive results fast!