Why do I have one discolored tooth?

On occasion a person will have one tooth that is discolored from the other teeth. This is often noticed after teeth whitening treatments when all other teeth have whitened with exception to this one or several teeth. So why is it this one tooth remains discolored in while the others do not?

There’s a variety of reasons for this unfortunate circumstance. Let’s begin by asking 3 questions. If you answer yes to any of these we have likely found an explanation:

  • Have you had dental work such as veneers, implants, crowns, bonding, or shaping?
  • Did you take antibiotics before the age of 8?
  • Have you experience trauma to that tooth that may of damaged the enamel?

Cosmetic dental work can result in tooth discoloration

This is a likely culprit if you have had veneers, implants, crowns, bonding or shaping to a tooth before having professional teeth whitening performed. Reason being is because the dentist will blend his cosmetic work to the color of the rest of your teeth. If you did not receive professional whitening prior to this procedure the dental works natural color will be that of the rest of your dentin. If you are due for dental work such as those procedures mentioned above, it is highly recommended you have your teeth whitened to your ideal level of whiteness. This will ensure that each time your restore your dentin’s color they will all be the same shade of white.

Tooth discoloration due to antibiotics administered during pregnancy or before the age of 8

Children administered the antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline will experience tooth discoloration due to an alteration that occurs when the permanent teeth have not yet erupted from the gums. The same tooth discoloration effects can occur when a mother takes these antibiotics during pregnancy. If either of these are possibilities it’s likely your teeth always had a yellow tint to them. Note that discoloration could be isolated to one or several teeth but not necessarily all because our permanent teeth erupt at different times. Those which were present prior to the medication will not be discolored. As a result neither in office or at home teeth whitening products will whiten your teeth beyond their original color.

Damaged tooth enamel results in tooth discoloration

Enamel is put in place to protect the tooth from extreme temperatures and impact just as a coat protects us from cold and a helmet product us from impact. If it were not for the enamel we would damage the surface of the tooth with every bite of food and we would be unable to consume cold beverages due to the discomfort of the extreme temperature. While this enamel is very strong, it can be compromised in the event of extreme impact. When this occurs your body is unable to restore it because enamel has no living cells. It is common for individuals to have a tooth that is predominantly white yet a segment of it is discolored yellow.

Tooth enamel is semi transparent while dentin, which is the material beneath the enamel, can be white, gray, or even yellowish. The dentine’s natural color cannot be altered. In the event your dentine has a natural yellow or gray tint you will be unable to make your teeth whiter. If you feel you must have this fixed then a visit to the dentist is required, however be warned that this procedure will cost several thousand dollars.

Erin Stelbrink

Erin Stelbrink is a Registered Dental Hygienist with 5+ years of experience as a licensed hygienist and oral health care professional. She holds a passion for researching and acquiring awareness of the latest technologies and methods for providing valuable health care service and clinical treatment. Have more questions? Email Erin at