The foods we eat, the beverages we drink and age itself work against our teeth, causing discoloration over time. Teeth can become yellow due to stains — both deep and surface-level — as well as other causes that aren't always under our control. Whether the discoloration is due to staining or other factors, learn how to whiten your teeth through over-the-counter products and professional whitening from the dentist.
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
- Food and Drinks: Coffee, tea and wine are all causes of tooth discoloration due to their dark colours. In addition, acidic drinks like juices and soft drinks, and certain fruits can cause yellow teeth.
- Smoking: Tobacco products, like cigarettes, contain teeth-staining particles that stick in the microscopic pores of tooth enamel. These particles build up and stain the teeth, with the discolorations becoming darker and more difficult to remove over time.
- Thin Enamel: Thin tooth enamel also makes teeth look yellow. Tooth enamel is the hard surface of your teeth, and underneath it lies a yellow substance called dentine. Thick enamel looks white, but thin enamel allows dentine tones to show through, making teeth look yellow. Enamel naturally wears thin as people age, but acids from foods and drinks also thin the enamel by eroding its surface.
- Dry Mouth: Saliva neutralises acid and washes it away, according to Better Health Channel. People suffering from dry mouth miss out on this protective benefit. For example, if you are chronically dehydrated, you may not have enough saliva to moisturise your mouth effectively— putting you at risk of developing enamel wear.
Despite there being numerous causes, sometimes yellow teeth are just genetic; the shade of your teeth may be naturally more yellow than others. If your tooth colour is a concern for you, speak to your dental professional about cosmetic options.
How to Whiten Your Teeth
Whether your teeth are lightly stained or quite yellow, there are many ways to whiten your teeth – either gradually or super-fast, depending on the method you choose.
1. Professional Teeth Whitening
If you’re keen to transform a yellow smile to brilliantly pearly white fast, your best option is to see your dental professional for an in-office whitening treatment. Your dental professional will use a whitener with a strong concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Sometimes, they’ll use a UV or LED light or other devices to speed up the whitening process. Your teeth will be noticeably whiter at the end of the treatment. However, your dental professional may suggest more than one treatment if your teeth have yellowed considerably.
2. At-Home Teeth Whitening
Your dental professional can provide you with an at-home whitening kit that includes custom mouth trays and whitening gel with a lower concentration of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. By wearing the mouth trays filled with whitening gel each day for several weeks, you can soon achieve a whiter smile.
3. Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening
There’s an ever-growing array of whitening products you can buy at the shops, from whitening strips and pens to mouthwashes and toothpastes. These whitening products contain a lower concentration of whitening agent, and the toothpaste often contains high-cleaning silica, which helps to remove surface stains from the enamel of your teeth.
Preventing Yellow Teeth
If you want to keep your teeth looking healthy and white, avoid smoking and cut back on those espressos, teas and soft drinks. If you’re keen, get into the habit of using a straw when drinking dark-coloured and acidic beverages to help further prevent yellow teeth. Drink plain milk or tap water after eating or drinking anything acidic to help reduce the acid’s eroding effect.
Brushing and flossing also help prevent yellow teeth, as does avoiding snacks between meals so your saliva can dilute the acids in your mouth. Make sure you use dental products with fluoride to protect your teeth and get any dry mouth symptoms treated with the help of your dental professional.
When brushing twice a day and flossing doesn’t help improve the appearance of your yellow teeth, it might be time to consider some of these excellent whitening options. With so many ways to whiten yellow teeth, there’s no reason to hide a beautiful smile.