We all want to have a healthy, bright smile. Unfortunately, many of us don’t, as tooth discoloration can cause our teeth to look anything but white. The most common cause of discolored teeth is staining by foods and drinks that have discoloring substances in them. This kind of tooth discoloration responds well to teeth whitening. But there are many other causes of discolored teeth that don’t respond well to teeth whitening and might need a more involved cosmetic restoration.

Tartar Buildup

Our mouth has a lot of minerals dissolved in our saliva that help replace those lost in our teeth. However, these minerals can also become sediment and get deposited on your teeth, sometimes even replacing the atoms in the bodies of dead bacteria in plaque, creating fossils of the oral bacteria on your teeth. We call this buildup tartar, and it tends to start accumulating in areas that you don’t brush as well, such as along the gumline. Tartar often looks yellowish. The way to correct tartar buildup is to get regular checkups and cleanings that will remove the tartar and let your teeth be white again.

Tooth Decay

Small black spots on your teeth that grow are likely tooth decay, caused by the presence of oral bacteria that excrete acid and dissolve your tooth enamel. We can remove decay and replace it with tooth-colored fillings to restore the whiteness to your teeth.

Old Restorations

If you had old cavities treated with metal amalgam fillings, you may be disappointed to see that the new fillings have turned black and unattractive like decay. They can discolor your entire tooth. We can remove old fillings and replace them with tooth-colored fillings or use a dental crown to cover over the discolored tooth  if necessary.

Some old cosmetic restorations like porcelain veneers can become stained, especially if they’re very old or the surface has been scratched by overaggressive brushing and/or the use of abrasive toothpaste. New restorations can restore your smile.


As we age, our tooth enamel grows thinner. This occurs at a faster rate if you drink acidic beverages like soda frequently. Porcelain veneers or dental crowns may be necessary to cover up teeth discolored in this way.


Damage to your tooth can cause changes that occur inside your tooth. A slight injury can cause what’s essentially a bruise to your tooth nerve. This can lead to temporary discoloration of the tooth. More serious damage can cause the tooth nerve to die, causing the tooth to become permanently discolored. A dental crown can conceal the discolored tooth, but often a root canal is recommended to avoid and treat potential infection of the tooth.

Developmental Problems

Some people have teeth that are discolored from the moment they emerge. This can be due to overconsumption of fluoride as a child, the use of certain types of medications, or exposure to a toxic environment as a child can lead to discolored teeth. These discolored teeth have to be covered to be treated.

No matter what the cause, if you are unhappy with discolored teeth, we can restore them to the level of brilliance you desire.

Please call (843) 706-2999 for an appointment with a Hilton Head cosmetic dentist at Beyond Exceptional Dentistry today.