Ever thought of how your favorite celebrity has a dazzling white smile? It is now within your reach as well. Cosmetic teeth whitening treatment has become a popular dental procedure worldwide. Getting a sparkling white smile is easy but your teeth will soon turn the same shade of yellow if you don’t know the causes of yellow teeth. Let’s find out why our teeth become yellow.
What is the reason for yellow teeth?
From a dentist’s perspective, there are two types of discolorations. The stains that affect the enamel alone of the tooth are ‘extrinsic’ in nature. They are a result of our lifestyle choices – food, oral hygiene, habits, etc. Here are the causes of extrinsic stains:
1. Food and beverages
Drinks such as coffee, tea, colas, red wine and food like dark-colored fruits and vegetables such as beets, berries although very healthy will stain your teeth gradually. Other food like popsicles, candies, and pickles, soy sauce, curries with spices such as turmeric and tomato sauce stain teeth. The yellowing happens gradually on regular consumption.
2. Poor oral hygiene
This one is behind many of your dental woes. Brushing ineffectively means you are leaving plaque and bits of food on your teeth. This plaque attracts color pigments from the food you eat worsening the discoloration. This plaque hardens over time to form tartar or calculus which is yellow in color and rough in texture accumulating more color.
The tar and nicotine present in cigarettes get deposited on the surface of teeth making them yellow. So if you are trying to quit smoking, here is one more reason.
It is easy to remove these types of extrinsic discolorations with over the counter or professional treatments in the dental clinic or at home. But there are other types of stains which are ‘intrinsic’ or embedded in the tooth.
The reasons for such intrinsic stains include:
1. The use of certain medicines can affect teeth when they are developing, adversely disturbing the enamel or dentin formation. This can happen before birth as well as during childhood. Certain antibiotics, like tetracycline and doxycycline, when given to children prior to age 8, can stain teeth. Also, certain infections in pregnant mothers can discolor the child’s teeth. Radiation and chemotherapy treatment of the head and neck areas can also discolor teeth.
2. Injury to a tooth can damage the tooth, making them greyish in color. Such teeth often need root canal therapy as the nerve is damaged.
3. Tooth grinding is yet another cause. If done in excess it leads to the thinning and loss of enamel, exposing the underlying dentin which is yellow in color.
4. Eating excessive amounts of citrus fruits or drinking acidic beverages like aerated drinks can lead to loss of tooth enamel. The underlying darker dentin is seen through the thinned enamel making the teeth appear yellow.
5. Consuming fluoride in excess amounts when teeth are still forming under the gums can lead to what is known as fluorosis. Discolorations range from white spots to yellow-brown stains along with surface irregularities. Environmental sources such as naturally high levels of fluoride in water or an excessive amount of fluoride taken through supplements are some of the causes. Also, children, if they like the taste of toothpaste or mouth wash, have a habit of swallowing it. If this paste is fluoridated it can lead to fluorosis. Hence parental supervision is very important while brushing in very young children.
Some other causes
As you age, the enamel on your teeth gradually wears away making your teeth appear yellower.
Your genes also determine the color of your teeth. Some people are born with thinner enamels and yellower teeth.
How to avoid yellow teeth
Follow a good oral hygiene regimen. Make sure to brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, followed by flossing as the brush cannot get rid of all the plaque trapped between teeth. Learn to use the proper tooth brushing and flossing technique.
For extrinsic stains, it’s best to brush your teeth soon after eating colored food. Don’t avoid the colored fruits, veggies or curries; consume them in moderation and add a bit of variety and alternate with non-staining food. Also, drink water immediately after eating/ drinking colored food and beverages.
Avoid black tea/ coffee. Instead, add a bit of milk. Or you could drink out of a straw to lessen their coloring effects. Use a straw for fruit juices, sports drinks, and aerated beverages as well as for ice tea and cold coffee.
Snack on fiber-rich foods like carrots, green leafy vegetables, celery, etc. as they act to scrub your teeth clean, help to remove food debris as well as get the saliva to flow more to neutralize the acid in the mouth. You can also chew on sugarless gum to make more saliva.
How to brighten yellow teeth
There are many over the counter teeth whitening toothpaste and various systems available. You can start off by trying them out. The whitening agent in them is very weak and it takes a few weeks to months to show discernable results. At the same time, they can be abrasive and damage enamel.
A better option is to visit a dentist. During the exam, you can find out the true cause of your stains, if they are extrinsic or intrinsic and what treatment will help. Professional dental cleaning called scaling and polishing to get rid of the yellow tartar also helps to keep your gums and teeth healthy.
For people who grind their teeth, an appliance called a mouthguard can be worn at night time to prevent grinding. White fillings or crowns can be made to cover the damaged teeth.
Professional teeth whitening treatment is the best for those tough stains. Since this type of whitening is supervised by the dentist it is safe with assured results. In-office laser (Zoom) teeth whitening has become very popular in recent times. It uses laser light to activate the bleaching agent and within an hour you will see noticeable results, with up to 8 shades whiter teeth. If you feel better having treatment within the comfort of your home, you can use the in-home whitening agent provided by your dentist along with custom made trays that you load the whitening gel in and apply to your teeth for a few days to get brighter teeth.
There are other cosmetic treatments like dental bonding and ceramic veneers for intrinsic stains.
So if you are embarrassed by your yellow stained teeth, make an appointment today with our cosmetic specialist at Signature Smiles and get the best teeth whitening treatment.