White teeth look healthy and clean, which is probably why most people think that a bright smile is attractive. However, your teeth are naturally inclined to being more of an off-white, or beige color. So while it’s not particularly noticeable, most people don’t have perfectly white teeth. For many people, minor discoloration isn’t a problem. But sometimes tooth discoloration is very distracting, and you might feel uncomfortable to smile because you don’t like your teeth. So what causes yellow teeth, and how can you whiten your smile?
Yellow Teeth Causes
There are a number of things that could cause your teeth to yellow. And unfortunately, not all of the potential tooth yellowing culprits can be avoided through lifestyle choices. Luckily there are a few things you can do to prevent your teeth from yellowing, but even the best lifestyle won’t help you avoid all the possible causes for yellow teeth.
When it comes to lifestyle, staying healthy will pay off. Especially seeing as most of the worst things you can do for your teeth, aren’t healthy for your body either.
Here’s a list of things you can avoid to prevent tooth staining:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Fizzy drinks
- Coffee and tea
- Candies and other sugary foods
- Acidic foods and drinks
In truth, any food with a bright color can stain your teeth a little, even if it’s healthy. But unhealthy beverages and foods tend to be the worst. To avoid staining from beverages, you could opt to drink them through a straw rather than straight out of a cup or glass, as this minimizes the exposure of the liquid to your teeth, which prevents stains.
With things like alcohol, teeth yellowing isn’t actually caused by staining the surface of your teeth – although this could be a problem if you’re drinking red wine and other brightly colored drinks – too much alcohol dries out the inside of your mouth. Without enough saliva, your teeth are more prone to wear and tear, meaning that the layer of enamel on your teeth’s surface will become thinner.
Candies and sugary foods can also lead to tooth decay. All of these foods that damage your teeth can make them more sensitive and prone to staining.
Foods that have a high acidity, which would include any sour-tasting foods like lemons, pickles and even ketchup, also have a tendency to wear down the enamel of your teeth.
Causes of tooth yellowing that aren’t within your control include everything from the use of certain medications to childhood illness, neonatal jaundice and genes. Because there’s not much you can do to change these things, you can’t prevent this kind of tooth staining.
Tooth Whitening Options
There are plenty of tooth whitening options available, but not all of them are equally effective. Some of the most popular tooth whitening methods include the use of tooth whitening toothpastes and at-home tooth whitening kits.
However, just because at-home whitening treatments tend to be the most popular, doesn’t mean they’re the most effective. Tooth whitening kits and toothpastes tend to be the most accessible, but they have a limited ability to whiten your teeth.
Used too often, home treatments for tooth whitening are prone to thinning your tooth enamel. Thinner tooth enamel will cause the yellow layers under your enamel to become more visible and increase tooth sensitivity, meaning that overexposure to these treatments can actually yellow your teeth.
Some people suggest natural tooth whitening remedies you can make at home. But many of these use lemon juice as an ingredient, which has a high level of acidity, meaning it can thin out your tooth enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity. Remember, just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe to use often. Lemon is safe, but it’s still not the best thing to smear over your teeth on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, the best tooth whitening option remains seeing your dentist for deep bleaching treatments. Because deep bleaching uses laser technologies, it can bleach even the inner, yellow layers of your teeth. Meaning it’s effective even when your tooth yellowing has been caused by thinning enamel. Deep bleaching is completely safe and won’t lead to more tooth sensitivity over time. It’s also effective against yellowing caused by the use of medications, childhood illness and genetics.
While deep bleaching treatments aren’t as cheap as home treatments, you’re probably better off investing in special toothpastes that help alleviate tooth sensitivity rather than whitening toothpastes if you find that thinning tooth enamel is a problem for you. In this case, deep bleaching will also be your best whitening option, as tooth whiteners that are applied to the surface of your tooth won’t lighten the inside layers that are causing your teeth to appear yellow.