The Meaning Behind Different Tooth Colors

Oct 7, 2022

When you picture the ideal smile, what color is it? For most of us, the answer is white. Not all teeth are white, however. As it turns out, teeth can be a variety of different colors. What color they are can tell you about the health and condition of the teeth. So what are some of the different colors teeth can be and what do those colors mean?


Would it surprise you to learn that most healthy teeth naturally have a slight yellow tint to them? This is because the dentin, the layer of your tooth below the enamel, is yellow. The enamel itself is a white-blue color, but even healthy enamel is thin and translucent enough that the yellow color of the dentin comes through. That said, if your teeth are excessively yellow, that could be a sign of something else. Tooth decay, heavily pigmented foods and beverages, genetics, and advanced age can all result in teeth that appear more yellow.


Brown is not a color you want to see on teeth. If your teeth are brown or if you have brown spots on your teeth, you may have an underlying medical condition. At a minimum, your teeth have suffered significant staining, possibly due to what you eat and drink. You’re also likely suffering from significant plaque and tartar buildup that has turned into some degree of tooth decay. If you have brown spots on your teeth or teeth that are entirely brown, you need to see your dentist for professional treatment and cleaning.

Blue or Gray

Problems signified by yellow and brown teeth tend to start from the outside and work their way in. Teeth that are blue or gray are the opposite. Early exposure to tetracycline, an antibiotic, can result in blue or gray-colored teeth. This coloration can also signify that the nerves and pulp inside the tooth have died, resulting in a dead tooth. That could be due to trauma, infection, or simply tooth decay. Of course, some people are born with teeth that have a blueish-gray hue, in which case the color may be due simply to genetics.

Knowing what different colors on teeth mean provides valuable insight into the health and condition of a tooth. Just because your teeth are a healthy color may not mean that you like the way they look though. Most people wouldn’t mind having their teeth a few shades whiter. If you have concerns about the color of your teeth, talk to your dentist. There may be a few things they can do to help you.

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