Why are my teeth yellow when I brush them every day? If you’ve ever found yourself pondering this question while staring at your reflection in the mirror, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent study, approximately 35% of adults aged 15 years and older with natural teeth reported feeling uncomfortable about their dental appearance within the past year. We’ve all been taught from a young age that brushing our teeth diligently will keep them sparkling white. So, why is it that despite your best efforts, those pearly whites seem to have taken on a less-than-desirable shade of yellow? Read on to find out why your teeth stubbornly cling to their yellow hue, even with consistent brushing.
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
Yellow teeth can be a frustrating concern, affecting the appearance of your smile and leaving you wondering why your regular brushing efforts aren’t yielding the desired results. However, the colour of your teeth is influenced by various factors that extend beyond the realm of your brushing routine.
1. Poor Oral Hygiene
Inadequate brushing and flossing can lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can contribute to yellowing over time. When you don’t brush thoroughly or often enough, surface stains from food and beverages can accumulate, resulting in a yellowish appearance. Ensuring consistent and proper oral hygiene practices, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily, is crucial for preserving a brighter smile.
2. Consuming Certain Foods and Drinks
The foods and beverages we consume can leave lasting stains on our teeth, causing them to lose their natural whiteness. Some culprits known for their staining properties include coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-coloured berries. These items contain chromogens, highly pigmented molecules that can cling to the tooth enamel, leading to stains and gradually causing a yellowing effect. While it’s not necessary to completely eliminate these from your diet, being mindful of their consumption and rinsing or brushing your teeth promptly after can help minimise their staining effects
3. Smoking or Using Tobacco Products
Smoking and using tobacco products not only pose serious health risks but can also contribute to the yellowing of teeth. The tar and nicotine present in cigarettes and tobacco can seep into the enamel, leaving stubborn stains that are challenging to remove. Additionally, smoking reduces saliva production, hindering the natural cleansing and remineralisation process of teeth. If you are a smoker or use tobacco, quitting or reducing your habit can improve the colour and overall health of your teeth.
It may come as a surprise, but certain medications can have side effects that impact the colour of your teeth. Some antibiotics can cause intrinsic staining, which occurs during tooth development and leads to a yellow or grey appearance. Other medications, including antihistamines, high blood pressure drugs, and certain antipsychotics, can cause dry mouth, reducing saliva flow and leaving the teeth susceptible to staining and discolouration. If you suspect your medication is affecting the colour of your teeth, consulting your healthcare provider for alternative options or strategies to minimise the impact is advisable.
5. Thinning of Tooth Enamel
Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth and acts as a protective barrier. Over time, this protective layer can wear down due to various reasons, such as ageing, aggressive brushing, or acidic foods and drinks. When enamel becomes thin, the underlying layer of dentin, which has a yellowish hue, becomes more visible. This can result in a yellow or discoloured appearance of the teeth. As such, avoiding overly abrasive toothbrushes or brushing too vigorously, limiting consumption of acidic foods and drinks, and using fluoride toothpaste can help minimise enamel erosion.
6. Teeth Grinding or Clenching
Bruxism, the habit of grinding or clenching teeth, can contribute to yellow teeth. The repeated grinding motion wears down the enamel, making the underlying yellowish dentin more visible. In addition, bruxism can cause microfractures in the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to stains. Managing bruxism through techniques like using a mouthguard and stress reduction can help protect the teeth and prevent further yellowing. In severe cases, cosmetic dental procedures may be recommended by your dentist to restore the appearance of the teeth.
Types of Tooth Stains
Stains on your teeth can be broadly categorised into two main types: extrinsic stains and intrinsic stains. Let’s explore these types in detail:
1. Extrinsic Stains
Extrinsic stains refer to discolourations on the outer surface of the tooth enamel. These stains are usually caused by external factors, such as the foods we eat, the beverages we consume, and our oral habits. Common causes of extrinsic stains include coffee, tea, red wine, cola, berries, and tobacco. The pigments present in these substances can adhere to the enamel, resulting in noticeable discolouration over time. Fortunately, extrinsic stains are often superficial and can be easily treated with proper oral hygiene practices and professional dental cleanings.
2. Intrinsic Stains
Intrinsic stains originate from within the tooth structure and are more challenging to remove. These stains develop when the inner layer of the tooth, known as dentin, undergoes changes or discolouration. Intrinsic stains can be caused by various factors, including tooth trauma, certain medications, excessive fluoride intake during tooth development, or genetic conditions. Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic stains cannot be eliminated through regular brushing alone and often require dental treatments like teeth whitening, dental veneers, or composite bonding to improve their appearance.
Treating Yellow Teeth
If you have yellow teeth and you want to improve their appearance, several options are available to help you achieve a brighter and more radiant smile.
- Improving oral hygiene – Maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is the first step in preserving the appearance of your teeth. Ensure you brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Pay special attention to brushing along the gum line and all tooth surfaces. In addition, don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
- Diet modifications – Limit your consumption of foods and beverages known to cause staining. If you do indulge in these staining foods, make sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards or brush your teeth to minimise their impact. Additionally, incorporate more crunchy fruits and vegetables into your diet, like apples, carrots, and celery, as they can help naturally cleanse and scrub away surface stains.
- Teeth whitening – Teeth whitening is a popular treatment for combating yellow teeth. There are various options available, including over-the-counter whitening products and professional teeth-whitening treatments performed by dentists. While over-the-counter products may provide some improvement, for more visible and longer-lasting results, professional teeth whitening is often recommended. At Great Alpine Dental Advanced Aesthetics & Implants, we offer customised take-home teeth whitening kits to help you get a natural-looking, beautiful smile. Our kits are exclusively designed for each patient, allowing them to whiten their teeth at their own pace and within the comfort of their home. To learn more about the potential benefits that they offer, click here to read our next blog.
- Dental veneers – Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells made of porcelain that are bonded to the front surfaces of your teeth, covering any discolouration and providing a whiter appearance. This cosmetic dental procedure can also address other imperfections like chipped, misshapen or misaligned teeth, resulting in a complete smile makeover.
- Deep cleaning – In cases where yellow teeth are caused by extensive plaque buildup or tartar accumulation, a deep cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing may be necessary. This professional dental treatment involves the removal of plaque and tartar from below the gum line and smoothening the tooth roots to prevent further buildup. Deep cleaning can help restore the health of your gums and improve the appearance of your teeth by reducing yellowing caused by bacterial deposits.
Remember, consulting with a dentist is essential to determine the most suitable treatment option for your specific situation. They can assess the cause and severity of your yellow teeth and recommend the appropriate course of action to help you achieve a cleaner, natural-looking and more captivating smile.
Embrace a Brighter Smile Today with Great Alpine Dental!
At Great Alpine Dental Advanced Aesthetics & Implants, we understand your desire for having a smile that radiates joy and enhances your overall oral appearance. We believe everyone deserves to own a smile that is both healthy and beautiful, inside and out. Whether you’re looking for take-home teeth whitening kits to brighten your smile, dental veneers to enhance the shape and colour of your teeth, or dental implants for a complete smile restoration, we’ve got you covered.
Our team takes the time to listen to your concerns, understand your goals, and tailor our treatments to suit your unique needs. We prioritise your comfort and strive to create a relaxing and welcoming environment, ensuring that your experience with us is pleasant and stress-free. So if you are ready to take the first step towards achieving your oral health and smile goals, feel free to book a consultation with us.