Everyone wants to have a bright, beautiful smile. Unfortunately, yellowing of the teeth is common in our modern lifestyles. Everything from what we eat to the medications we take can contribute to the yellowing of the teeth, leaving many to hide their smile. But can yellow teeth become white? The good news is there are things that you can do to help restore a bright, white smile.
Here we take a closer look at what causes tooth discoloration, how to avoid these things, and how to whiten your yellow teeth.
Let’s dive in and get you to the bright, white smile you want!
- Yellow teeth are common but not always permanent. External stains can often be removed, while intrinsic stains may be more challenging to treat.
- Causes of yellow teeth include diet, smoking, poor dental hygiene, aging, medications, medical conditions, fluorosis, and dental trauma.
- Whitening options include at-home methods like toothpaste, strips, trays, and pens, as well as professional treatments performed by dentists.
- Natural methods like regular brushing, dietary adjustments, and using baking soda or hydrogen peroxide may also help whiten teeth.
- It’s essential to consult with a dentist before trying any whitening products to ensure they are safe for your teeth and gums.
Are yellow teeth permanent?
Yellow teeth are not always permanent, as various factors can cause their discoloration. External stains from certain foods, beverages, or smoking can often be removed through professional dental cleanings or at-home teeth-whitening treatments. However, intrinsic stains, which occur from within the tooth, may be more challenging to eliminate. In some cases, they can be improved with more intensive whitening procedures or cosmetic treatments like dental veneers.
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices and avoiding stain-causing habits can help prevent yellowing and maintain a brighter smile. Consulting a dentist is crucial to determine the cause of yellow teeth and identify the most suitable treatment options.
Causes of yellow teeth
Teeth can become yellow due to a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Extrinsic factors involve surface-level staining, while intrinsic factors affect the tooth’s internal structure, leading to discoloration from within.
Consuming certain foods and beverages high in chromogens (color pigments), such as coffee, tea, red wine, and dark-colored fruits, can lead to teeth staining over time.
Smoking and tobacco use
Tobacco products contain tar and nicotine, which can cause yellowish-brown stains on teeth and contribute to overall dental discoloration.
Poor dental hygiene
Inadequate brushing and flossing can allow plaque and tartar buildup, leading to tooth discoloration.
As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel may naturally wear down, revealing the yellowish dentin layer beneath.
Some medications, particularly certain antibiotics like tetracycline and antihistamines, can cause intrinsic tooth stains, or tooth stains originating from within the tooth.
Certain medical conditions can affect tooth development or enamel formation, leading to yellow or discolored teeth. Some common conditions associated with tooth discoloration include liver disease, celiac disease, calcium deficiency, and metabolic diseases.
Fluorosis is a common condition that causes yellow, white, or brown spots to develop on the surface of the teeth. This condition occurs due to excessive fluoride consumption during tooth development.
Dental trauma can cause tooth yellowing through a process called pulp canal obliteration or internal resorption. When a tooth experiences trauma, such as a strong impact or injury, it can damage the blood vessels and nerves within its pulp chamber. In response to the injury, the tooth may try to repair itself by laying down a layer of reparative dentin within the pulp chamber.
Reparative dentin is a secondary type of dentin that forms in response to various stimuli, including injury or decay. Unlike normal dentin, reparative dentin tends to have a more yellowish or darker color. As the reparative dentin accumulates within the pulp chamber, it can show through the translucent enamel and give the tooth a yellowish appearance.
Can you make yellow teeth white again?
Yes, various dental treatments often make yellow teeth white again. However, it’s essential to understand that the success of teeth whitening depends on the cause and severity of the discoloration. Intrinsic stains caused by factors like dental trauma or certain medications may be more challenging to whiten, and in such cases, cosmetic options like dental veneers or crowns may be considered for a more permanent solution.
Let’s take a look at some of the whitening options available.
1. At-home methods
There are several at-home tooth-whitening methods available that can help brighten your smile. Before trying any at-home whitening method, it’s essential to consult with your dentist to ensure it is safe for your teeth and gums, especially if you have existing dental issues.
Whitening toothpaste contains mild abrasives and special chemicals that help remove surface stains. They are readily available at most drugstores and can be used as part of your daily oral hygiene routine.
Over-the-counter whitening strips are thin, flexible strips coated with a peroxide-based gel. You apply them directly to your teeth and leave them on for the specified time. Results may be visible within a few days to a couple of weeks.
These at-home kits come with custom-fitted trays and whitening gel. You fill the trays with gel and wear them over your teeth for the time period listed in the instructions. Be careful not to get the gel on your gums, as it can cause irritation.
Whitening pens contain a peroxide-based gel that you apply directly to your teeth. They are convenient for touch-ups and on-the-go use.
2. Professional whitening
Professional teeth whitening treatments performed by a dentist or dental professional are highly effective and offer faster and more noticeable results than at-home methods. These treatments use stronger whitening agents to target both extrinsic and intrinsic stains, achieving a brighter and more vibrant smile. Common professional whitening treatments can be done in the office or your dentist may fit you for custom trays that you can use at home with professional strength whitening products.
3. Natural methods
Some natural methods may help with tooth whitening, although it’s important to note that their effectiveness can vary from person to person.
Regular brushing can help remove surface stains from teeth caused by plaque and certain food particles. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush helps remove the sticky film of bacteria and food debris known as plaque that forms on teeth throughout the day. Plaque can contribute to staining, especially when it interacts with pigmented foods and beverages.
Dietary changes can play a role in reducing tooth yellowing and preventing further discoloration. Some foods and beverages can contribute to staining on the teeth due to their color pigments or acidic nature. By making specific dietary adjustments, you can help maintain a brighter smile. Some dietary tips can include:
- Limit stain-causing foods and beverages: Reduce consumption of foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth, such as coffee, tea, red wine, dark-colored berries, soy sauce, and tomato-based products. If you do consume these items, try to rinse your mouth with water afterward or brush your teeth within 30 minutes to minimize staining.
- Drink through a straw: When drinking beverages that can stain teeth (e.g., coffee, tea, or dark sodas), use a straw to minimize direct contact with your teeth.
- Increase water intake: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps wash away food particles and bacteria that can contribute to tooth staining.
- Chew on crunchy fruits and vegetables: Foods like apples, carrots, and celery can act as natural abrasives, helping to remove surface stains when chewed.
- Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing sugar-free gum throughout the day can help stimulate saliva production and wash away food particles and bacteria that can contribute to tooth discoloration.
- Cheese and dairy products: Cheese, milk, and other dairy products contain calcium and phosphates, which can help remineralize teeth and strengthen enamel.
Baking soda is a mild abrasive that can help remove surface stains. You can mix a small amount of baking soda with water to form a paste and brush your teeth gently with it a few times a week. You may also find over-the-counter toothpaste that includes baking soda.
Diluted hydrogen peroxide can act as a natural bleaching agent. You can swish a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide in your mouth but be cautious not to swallow it. Alternatively, you can dip your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide and gently brush your teeth.
Say goodbye to yellow teeth
While revealing a yellow smile can make you feel self-conscious, the good news is there are things you can do to whiten and brighten your smile. Depending on the type of staining you have, treatment can be done at home or may require professional whitening solutions. Before trying any whitening products, it is a good idea to check with your dentist to ensure there are no underlying dental concerns that may be aggravated by whitening treatments.
Helping you achieve and maintain a bright, healthy smile
At New Leaf Dental, we understand the importance of a healthy smile, not only for your appearance but for your overall health. Our team of dental professionals work with you to maintain healthy teeth and that includes addressing extrinsic and intrinsic staining. Treatments can vary from whitening applications to the placement of veneers.
To learn more, request an appointment today.