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Why Are Baby Teeth Whiter Than Adult Teeth?

Many clients have asked 5280 Teeth Whitening why baby teeth are so much whiter than adult teeth. We decided to drop a little knowledge on the subject, while showing you how permanent teeth change color as you age — and what you can do about it.

Both baby and adult teeth have the exact same components: a core called the pulp, an inner protective layer called dentin and an outer protective layer called enamel. We’ll be focusing on the last two.

The inner dentin layer is naturally yellowish in color — it’s also the layer that takes on staining from food and other sources over time. The outer enamel layer, while whiter, is also a bit translucent, allowing a bit of the dentin layer to show through. The main two differences between baby teeth and adult teeth is the enamel-to-dentin ratio and the translucence.

This ratio is much higher in baby teeth — they have more enamel than they do dentin, providing a thicker barrier that hides more of the dentin’s yellowish color. Also, the enamel layer of baby teeth is often more opaque, which does a better job of hiding the dentin’s off-white color.

Adult teeth have far more dentin and enamel than baby teeth, which stands to reason — they’re designed to last you the rest of your life, while baby teeth are . However, adult enamel is often a bit more translucent, allowing the dentin to show through easier. Additionally, since dentin takes on stains over time, adult teeth are exposed to years of coffee, high-stain foods and other sources of discoloration like tobacco and alcohol.

The Good News About Your Adult Teeth...

With that little biology lesson in your back pocket, you may be wondering how getting your teeth professionally whitened affects those all-important protective layers of your teeth. Authorities throughout the dentistry industry, including the American Dental Association, have made it abundantly clear that teeth whitening is a safe and effective way to improve your smile.

So, while the beauty of baby teeth may be short-lived, adults can safely and easily recapture it with a single trip to their local cosmetic teeth whitening provider, ensuring years of beautiful smiles and strong enamel to come.


5280 Teeth Whitening is excited to be working with Walker Cornfield to create original blog content. Walker Cornfield is a freelance writer/editor and happy teeth-whitening client. Drop him a line at Watchword Writing and Editing Services.



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