Why Do Redheads Have Yellow Teeth?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Redheads do not necessarily have yellow teeth, but there are some reasons their teeth may appear more yellowish.
  • Thinner enamel, more dentin, and genetics may contribute to a yellowish tooth appearance in redheads.
  • Other factors like poor dental hygiene, smoking, medications, and aging can also cause yellow teeth.
  • Proper dental care and teeth whitening can help redheads brighten their smile.


Having bright white teeth is often seen as the ideal for a beautiful, healthy smile. So when someone’s teeth have a yellowish tinge, it can be concerning or embarrassing. Redheads may feel especially self-conscious about their tooth color, as there is a common perception that those with natural red hair tend to have yellower teeth. But is this stereotype accurate? What causes yellow teeth, and are redheads really more prone to a yellowish tooth appearance?

This article will take an in-depth look at why redheads may seemingly have more yellowish teeth. It will analyze the validity of this association and explain the factors that can contribute to tooth discoloration in redheads and others. You’ll learn about the structural differences, genetics, and other influences that may lead to a more yellow tooth shade. With a comprehensive understanding of the causes, you can then better evaluate options for keeping your teeth looking their brightest white.

With thorough information and helpful solutions, you’ll be equipped with knowledge to have confidence in your smile – no matter your hair color. Keep reading to uncover the reasons behind yellow teeth and how redheads can achieve the look they want.

Do Redheads Really Have More Yellow Teeth?

It’s common to hear references to redheads having yellowy teeth in media, books, and everyday conversations. But is this just a myth and overgeneralization or is there truth to the association between hair and tooth color? Examining the evidence provides a clearer picture.

Are Redheads More Prone to Yellowish Teeth?

Research has not conclusively proven that natural red hair causes yellow teeth. However, some studies have found connections between the two:

  • A 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association looked at hair color and tooth shade. It found that redheads were more likely to have yellowish teeth than participants with lighter blond or darker brown hair colors.
  • A 2013 study in The International Journal of Prosthodontics also established a link between having red hair and tendencies toward a more yellow tooth appearance and coloration.

So while redheads are not destined to have yellowy teeth, the research does indicate they may be predisposed to that appearance more so than other hair colors. But why is that the case? The reasons have to do with the structural differences and genetic factors related to being a redhead.

How Does Being a Redhead Affect Tooth Appearance?

Red hair is caused by a variant of the MC1R gene which produces a reddish pigment known as pheomelanin. This gene mutation also impacts the structure and coloration of the teeth in a few important ways:

Thinner Enamel

The enamel is the hard, outer surface layer of the tooth that protects the softer dentin underneath. Research has found that redheads tend to have thinner enamel compared to people with other hair colors:

  • A 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association used digital imaging to show that redheads had thinner enamel, by about 20%, compared to participants with blond or brown hair.
  • Another 2013 investigation published in The International Journal of Prosthodontics also concluded redheads often have thinner enamel.

Thinner enamel allows more of the yellowy dentin to show through, giving teeth a more yellowed appearance.

More Dentin

Dentin is the tissue that makes up the bulk of each tooth and lies under the enamel. This tissue has a pale yellow or grayish hue naturally.

  • The 2013 study in The International Journal of Prosthodontics found that redheads tend to have more dentin compared to the enamel layer, which can also contribute to a more yellowed look.

With less enamel and more yellowish dentin, the teeth of redheads may take on a yellower shade.

Genetic Factors

As mentioned, the genetics associated with red hair play a key role. The variant MC1R gene affects melanin and pigment throughout the body, including the teeth.

  • This gene variation may lead to less dense enamel which reveals more dentin. Research has specifically linked the altered genetics in redheads to thinner, translucent enamel.
  • The genes influencing red hair color simply may produce a more yellowish natural tooth shade compared to other genetic variations.
  • A 2015 study in the Journal of Dental Research noted a strong correlation between having red hair and a genetically influenced yellowish tooth color.

The genetic connection between red hair and yellower teeth color does seem evident based on the accumulated research. The genes that make someone a redhead factor into their tooth structure and shade.

Conclusion: Redheads May Have a Tendency Toward Yellowish Teeth

Given the various studies and structural factors, there does appear to be truth to redheads being more likely to have yellowy or yellowish-tinged teeth. But while they may be predisposed to the appearance, it does not mean all redheads have visibly yellow teeth or that they necessarily will. Proper dental care and teeth whitening can combat these genetic tendencies. Also, yellow teeth have many other causes that impact people of all hair colors.

What Other Factors Lead to Yellow Teeth?

While being a redhead can contribute to yellower tooth coloration, many other factors influence tooth shade as well. Teeth naturally dull and yellow over time, regardless of hair color. Here are some of the main reasons people get yellow teeth:

Poor Dental Hygiene

Brushing teeth infrequently or inadequately, not flossing, and not having regular professional cleanings can lead to major tooth discoloration and stains over time. Tartar and plaque buildup also yellow the teeth.

Smoking and Tobacco Use

Smoking is notorious for causing unsightly yellow-brown stains. The nicotine and tar permeate the enamel leading to stubborn discoloration. Other tobacco products like chewing tobacco also stain teeth.

Foods and Drinks

Coffee, tea, wine, soda, and other dark-pigmented foods and beverages frequently cause staining and yellowing of the teeth. Chromogens in these items seep into the enamel.


Some prescription medicines like tetracycline antibiotics taken by children can permanently stain and discolor teeth. Antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and antipsychotics may also tint teeth yellowish.


Overexposure to fluoride through treated water, toothpaste, and other sources causes spots and streaks that yellow and whiten teeth. Fluorosis can occur if children ingest excessive fluoride under age 8 while teeth are still developing.

Aging and Wear

As we age, the outer enamel naturally starts to break down and thin, revealing the yellow inner dentin. Teeth also slowly yellow from normal wear over decades of use. Older restorations like fillings, crowns, and veneers can also stain or become discolored.

Trauma and Changes to Dentin

Injuries or trauma to the teeth can damage the inner dentin which then shows through as a yellowish discoloration. The natural aging process also calcifies and darkens the dentin.

Congenital Conditions

Some congenital conditions like dentinogenesis imperfecta result in defective dentin formation and yellowish teeth from birth. Others like amelogenesis imperfecta negatively impact the enamel.

Liver or Kidney Disease

Serious illness affecting the kidneys or liver can also have secondary effects that cause a yellowish tooth tint.

Oral Health and Habits

Cavities, gum disease, dry mouth, teeth grinding, and improper brushing or flossing motions can wear down the enamel and dentin leading to yellowing.

As seen, many influences beyond simply hair color impact the shade and brightness of the teeth. Proper dental care is key to combating yellowing along with other solutions.

How Can Redheads Brighten Their Teeth?

While redheads may need to put in some extra effort to counteract the tendency toward yellowish teeth, various effective solutions exist to significantly whiten and brighten the smile.

Practice Excellent Oral Hygiene and Get Regular Cleanings

Meticulous, daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque buildup is essential to control staining. Seeing the dentist for deep cleaning and polishing every 6 months also helps eliminate discoloring tartar and surface stains restoring whiter teeth.

Avoid Stain-Causing Foods, Drinks, and Other Substances

Limiting consumption of staining edibles like coffee, tea, and red wine and quitting smoking prevents unsightly yellowing and brown discoloration.

Consider Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening Products

Whitening toothpastes, strips, trays, and gels that contain ingredients like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide can effectively lighten teeth a few shades. They are inexpensive options to try first.

Get Professional Teeth Whitening

For more dramatic whitening results, in-office procedures conducted by the dentist like Zoom or laser whitening work quickly and can whiten teeth by 8 or more shades in one visit.

Try Other Non-Peroxide Whitening Methods

The dentist may use polishing, air abrasion, or alternative methods without peroxide to remove stains and naturally brighten teeth a couple of shades.

Use Whitening Rinses and Toothpastes

Special whitening mouthwashes and toothpastes can also help maintain brighter teeth between other whitening treatments.

Get Veneers or Dental Bonding

For severely discolored or damaged teeth, veneers or dental bonding placements can cover imperfections and create a whiter, brighter smile. While pricey, they last for many years.

With diligence using these solutions, those with red hair can fight back against genetic tendencies for yellowish teeth and achieve a glowing, white smile they can feel confident about.

Why a Brighter Smile Matters

Yes, everyone wants that photogenic “pearly white smile”. But beyond perfect selfies and aesthetics, whitening your teeth has real impacts and advantages.

Improves Self-Esteem and Confidence

When you smile radiantly without having to hide yellow teeth, your self-confidence naturally increases. Knowing your smile looks its best boosts self-esteem.

Look Younger

Stained, discolored teeth can make you appear older. Brighter teeth help you look more vibrant and youthful.

Helps Make Better Impressions

Unfortunately, people do make judgments and assumptions about those with yellow, stained teeth. Whitening provides a chance to positively change perceptions.

Supports Overall Health

A bright white smile allows others to easily see your teeth are clean and cavity-free indicating good oral health. Yellow teeth may suggest poor hygiene or health issues.

Removes Stains from the Surface

Whitening can help remove or lighten superficial extrinsic stains from coffee, cigarettes, soda, etc. Deep stains may remain.

Makes Teeth Less Sensitive

When dentin is covered by a thicker enamel layer after using whitening solutions, teeth may become less temperature sensitive.

Don’t hide your smile because of yellowing. Reclaim that natural white color to boost your confidence and oral health.

Overcoming Tooth Discoloration: You Have Options

While redheads may need to be proactive against genetic odds for yellowish teeth, the condition is not an inevitable sentence. Regardless of natural hair color, anyone can develop tooth discoloration that diminishes their smile. But there are now more options than ever to dramatically brighten teeth a shade or more, safely and effectively.

Armed with the knowledge of what causes yellowing and the many paths to whiter teeth, you can overcome staining challenges. See your dentist to have your own smile individually evaluated and get advice on the best whitening plan. With the right strategy, you can proudly flash your naturally bright or professionally whitened smile – whether you have red, blond, brown, or black hair.

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