Can Vitamin deficiency cause Teeth discolouration?

In this brief article we will learn all about teeth discoloration due to vitamin deficiency and what are some other causes of teeth discoloration as well. We will also learn about the various types of teeth discoloration and what can be done about it.

Can Vitamin deficiency cause Teeth discolouration?

Vitamin deficiency can lead to teeth discoloration. It may range from slight discolored spots to the entire surface of teeth being discolored. It is a well known fact that vitamins play a major role in the immunity of our body. But not everybody knows that vitamins play many essential roles in the overall health of our body, including the normal development and formation of our teeth.

Vitamin D deficiency is mainly responsible for teeth discolouration. Yes, you read it right. We have always been taught that vitamin D is responsible for the development and maintenance of healthy bones, but apart from bones, vitamin D also maintains the health of our teeth. Especially when they are in the developing stages, that is when we are young. 

Another vitamin that affects the overall health of our teeth and gums is vitamin B12. Deficiency of this essential vitamin can lead to severe gum diseases and can also make our teeth fall out.

Are all teeth discoloration the same?

When we talk about teeth discoloration, it is important to understand that not all teeth discolorations are the same. There are different types of teeth discolorations and each type requires a different approach for their management. 

Broadly classifying, teeth discolouration are grouped as:

  • Intrinsic stains
  • Extrinsic stains
  • Age related stains

As the name suggests, intrinsic stains are the stains and discolorations inside the teeth, rather than being on the outer surfaces. Intrinsic stains are caused when damages occur to the teeth from the inside. They can also be caused when staining particles penetrate the exterior most layer of the teeth and reach the inner layers of teeth causing discoloration. 

Extrinsic stain, on the other hand, is the ones that are present on the outer surface of teeth. These stains are comparatively easier to remove than the interior discoloration. These stains are caused because of many reasons, drinking large quantities of tea being one the major reasons. Not maintaining proper oral hygiene can also lead to the formation of extrinsic stains and discoloration. 

Age related discoloration happens as we age and it is something that most elderly people face. As we age, our teeth too go through age related changes, thinning and even losing of enamel being one. Because of this the dentin gets exposed, which is naturally yellow in colour. Combined with exposure to staining foods and beverages, and improper brushing, the teeth become discolored.

What causes discolouration of teeth?

There are many reasons that can lead to discoloration of teeth, vitamin D deficiency being one of them. Before we discuss how vitamin D deficiency leads to teeth discoloration, let us take a look at some of the other major causes of teeth discoloration, apart from vitamin D deficiency.

Tea and coffee stains are one of the most commonly encountered discolorations. People who drink tea, coffee and red wine in excess, can experience teeth discoloration often. Apart from tea and coffee, drinking acidic drinks and consuming soy sauce in excess can also cause teeth discoloration.

Eating foods rich in staining ingredients such as turmeric, balsamic vinegar or curries in excess can also cause teeth discoloration.

Smoking is another major reason behind teeth discoloration. Tar and nicotine in cigarettes stain teeth when they get exposed to heat. Continuous buildup of these substances can lead to substantial teeth discoloration which can be quite unpleasant to look at.

Trauma and damage to the teeth can lead to changes in the internal as well as external surfaces of the teeth which can cause discoloration. A severely traumatised tooth can turn pink, blue or even black over time. Any change in the structure of the teeth can make them prone to staining and discoloration which may happen quickly or over a period of time.

Certain medicines can cause teeth discoloration too. One such medicine is Tetracycline. Consuming tetracycline in childhood can lead to severely discolored teeth in adulthood. Read this article to know more about tetracycline induced teeth staining. 

Why is Vitamin D important for teeth?

Vitamin D is of the major nutrients that play a substantial role in the mineralization of teeth. Teeth that are properly mineralized, are healthy, strong and are more likely to stay disease free. However, improperly mineralized or hypomineralized teeth are prone to discoloration as well as cavities. When we are young and have baby teeth or milk teeth in our mouth, our permanent teeth are developing and mineralizing inside our jaw bones. It is at this point that if we do not get enough vitamin D, the mineralization process will not happen properly and teeth can be malformed and discolored. 

The dentin of the teeth will not mineralised properly and the subsequent layer of enamel will also not form properly. Because of this even a slight exposure to staining factors can cause massive intrinsic teeth discoloration, which is permanent and will not go away with procedures like scaling and brushing. Such teeth lack strength as well and are more prone to cavities and breakages.

This discoloration can also affect our milk teeth as well. When a baby does not get enough vitamin D in utero, the milk teeth mineralised will again get hampered in the same way and when the milk teeth start erupting at the age of six months, they will be weak and discolored. Subsequently, if this deficiency continues, the mineralization of the permanent teeth will be improper as well. 

As we know that enamel is the outermost layer of the teeth which protects the teeth from staining, hypomineralized teeth will have a lacking enamel or thin enamel. This enamel can erode away quickly, leaving the dentine exposed to the oral environment. As dentin is naturally yellow in color, further exposure to staining substances will cause discoloration much easily as compared to a healthy tooth.

How do we get Vitamin D?

Now that we know how vitamin D deficiency can make our teeth more prone to discoloration, it is important to know how to get enough vitamin D. The recommended dose for vitamin D for an infant upto 12 months of age, from 1 year to 70 years and over 70 years are 400 IU (international units), 600 IU and over 800 IU respectively.

The main source of vitamin D is sunlight. However, exposure to sunlight does not give you vitamin D. Vitamin D that is already present in the body gets converted to its active form which is 1,25 dihydroxycholecalciferol upon exposure to sunlight. This active form can be taken up by our body and our body can easily utilise it. Without enough vitamin D, calcium absorption in the body also gets disrupted which can lead to a deficiency of calcium in us. Similar to vitamin D, calcium deficiency can also harm the overall health of our bones and teeth.

Apart from sunlight, fortified dairy products, fish skin and fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and soy milk are some sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements are also a great source of vitamin D and your doctor will prescribe it to you if vitamin D deficiency is suspected. 

What to do if teeth are discoloured?

Discolored teeth can be a nightmare for many. All of us wish for a sparkling smile with pearly teeth. However, discolored teeth can cause a great deal of stress. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is possible to manage both intrinsic as well as extrinsic teeth discoloration.

Extrinsic teeth discoloration can be easily managed by scaling and proper brushing. Apart from this, giving up smoking and avoiding staining substances and habits is essential to maintain the white color of teeth. Your teeth will become discolored once again if these precautionary methods are not followed after getting the discoloration and stains removed.

Managing intrinsic stains and discoloration is far more complex as compared to intrinsic stains. Unlike extrinsic discoloration, intrinsic discoloration which is present in the deeper surfaces of teeth, will not go away by scaling. Procedures like teeth whitening and bleaching, laser teeth whitening are needed to remove the internal teeth discoloration.

Teeth which are discolored may not always be treated by bleaching and laser whitening. As mentioned above, vitamin D hampers the mineralization of teeth which can make them porous and weak. Procedures like bleaching make the teeth porous even further. Therefore, if your dentist suspects a vitamin D deficiency, they might want your blood work done to confirm a deficiency and bleaching might not be advised in such a case.

However, this does not mean that vitamin D induced teeth discoloration cannot be corrected. Apart from the above mentioned procedures, dental veneers or laminates can be done to cover up the discolored teeth and they will give you sparkling teeth which you have always wished for. These procedures are safe for hypomineralized teeth. However, it is important to remember that the results of these procedures need maintenance as well. You cannot go back to smoking or drinking excessive tea and coffee as this will lead to your teeth getting discolored again.

Frequently Asked Questions (Teeth discoloration vitamin deficiency)

Why do teeth become yellow with age?

Teeth become yellow as we age because the enamel which protects our teeth from staining erodes with age. This exposes the dentin which is naturally yellow in color and it can make our teeth appear yellow.

Can vitamin C deficiency affect teeth?

Yes, vitamin C deficiency can cause a gum disease which is known as scurvy. The gums become weak because of this disease and bleed profusely. You can lose your teeth over time if this deficiency is not corrected.

What happens if vitamin B12 is too low.

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. This deficiency can lead to many problems in the body such as hair fall, greying of hair, severe gum disease called periodontitis, painful ulcers in the mouth etc.

Which fruit is rich in vitamin B12?

Fruits such as bananas, oranges, peaches and mango are good sources of vitamin B12. Apart from these, nuts are also a good source of vitamin B12.

Does it hurt to get teeth whitened?

No, teeth whitening is generally a painless procedure. Your dentist will apply a protective substance over your gums to protect them from the tooth whitening agents.


Teeth discoloration is a fairly common phenomena, which many people face at some or the other point in their lives. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to severely discolored teeth which are permanent. It is important to maintain the level of vitamin D in the body so as to keep our entire body including the bones and teeth and good health.



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