No one likes yellow teeth. They can be enough to put some people off smiling and impact one’s self-esteem. But there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of yellow teeth.
What Causes Yellow Teeth in Adults?
Teeth can look yellow for a variety of reasons. Some are caused by lifestyle choices while others can’t be avoided.
Just like some people have crooked teeth similar to their parents’, some people’s adult teeth are a darker shade than average. Teeth colour can be a genetic trait and you weren’t born with straight, white teeth, you may need braces, teeth whitening, or both.
The biggest contributor to yellowing teeth is age. After years of hard work, the enamel, the protective layer that covers every tooth, wears away and the dentin becomes more visible. The dentin, the final layer before reaching the dental pulp cavity, is naturally more yellow in colour than the enamel. Even if you are still a young adult, you may still notice your teeth looking more yellow as time goes by. This is something that doesn’t happen overnight and instead a gradual build up, but you may be more aware of it some days.
Staining from food and drinks
Similar to the way some food and drink stain clothes, they can also cause stains on teeth. The worst offenders are red wine, tea, coffee, dark-pigmented juices, cola and sports drinks, tomato based sauces, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and dark chocolate.
If you needed antibiotics before the age of eight, these may be to blame for permanent marks on the teeth you had at the time the teeth erupted. Tetracycline, an oral antibiotic, may impact the calcium deposition while adult teeth are forming.
How to Reduce Your Chances of Yellow Teeth
For most people, there isn’t an overnight fix for whitening teeth. The truth is some people may never achieve the shade of white they would like but the yellow hue can be improved in most cases. Prevention is often more important than the treatment. Continue reading on a few suggestions to keep teeth as white as possible and to amp up the white if you find your teeth are looking slightly yellow.
Don’t Sip For Long Periods
Sipping on your favourite drinks for most of the day might sound ideal, but it’s not a good one for your teeth. We don’t recommend people with braces to consume heavy sugar and tannin drinks, but if you’re going to have a cola or an iced tea, drink it fairly quickly with a straw. A straw means some of the liquid bypasses the teeth. Drinking quickly means your teeth aren’t being constantly bathed in the staining, sugary ingredients which occur when you’re taking many sips of the drink. Once you have finished the drink, brush your teeth.
Rinse or Brush After Eating
If you’re eating or drinking foods that can cause stains, try to remove all traces of the offending food and drink from your teeth as soon as possible. Brushing and flossing are best but if you’re out and about, rinse your mouth with water.
Keep up the Dental Hygiene
Never miss brushing your teeth every morning and night. Unbrushed teeth are the perfect environment for bacteria and cavities to thrive, which lead to the yellow look. Floss daily so the sides of teeth and your gums stay healthy. See your dentist for a professional clean every six months, whether you have braces or not.
How to Fix Yellow Teeth
If you want to change the hue of your teeth, you can use a whitening toothpaste, or invest in teeth whitening products or a whitening procedure.
A whitening toothpaste won’t have a dramatic impact on the colour of your teeth overnight or over a week, but it can amp up the shade for a more radiant smile. Whitening agents include baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, and silica. They’re mildly abrasive to remove stains so be careful not to brush too hard or overdo it as you risk wear to the tooth enamel which allows the dentin to show through. As mentioned, the dentin has more of a yellow color than enamel, so take care.
The most straightforward fix for yellow teeth is to have them whitened. There are plenty of whitening options but having a dentist whiten your teeth is likely to get the greatest improvement. A dentist can use stronger ingredients than if you were to buy a preparation over the counter. Remember, never use any kind of whitening toothpaste or products while you have your braces on. There is a part of the tooth that is covered by the bracket glued onto the teeth, and this part of the teeth won’t whiten like the rest so there’s a risk of being left with marks on the teeth when the braces come off.
This is a relatively invasive procedure when your dentist can cover the teeth with a thin veneer either made of plastic or ceramic. This procedure is reserved for teeth that may have a-typical shape of colour that cannot be resolved by whitening. The ceramic veneers generally require some minor preparation of the natural tooth but often achieve a more natural appearance.
Veneers should only be considered near the end of facial growth in late teenagers or adults
This procedure must be carefully considered as they are invasive procedures and have a limited lifespan and these issues need to be discussed with your general dentist.
For more information, read our article Teeth Whitening After Braces - Should I Get My Teeth Whitened?
The most important takeaway is knowing that yellowing of teeth most likely didn't happen overnight, and going back to long-lasting, healthy, white teeth might not be obtained after following best practices for a week.
Nevertheless, if you'd like to discuss any concerns related to oral hygiene, make a call to your nearest clinic or book an appointment online to chat with one of our specialists.