Got Yellow Teeth? Here is Why And What To Do About It
Do you have yellow teeth? A lot of you would like to say “No”, but most of us cannot proudly say so. It is possible that it’s our own fault that our teeth turn yellow, but then there are a lot of other contributing factors not under our control, which can cause our teeth to become yellow or discolored. That is a big problem whenever you have a photo moment that you want to be a part of and it’s at times like these, you wish you had those pearly white teeth.
The first thing to understand about the color of your teeth is that multiple things contribute to the natural shade of your teeth. The structure of your teeth, the environment of your mouth and the natural growth process of teeth etcetera; all of these things tangle a huge web and eventually play a role in affecting the color of your chompers. Still wondering how everything would lead up to yellow or sometimes dark brown teeth? Let us discuss the causes of discolored teeth. While we highlight the causes, we will help you understand how to prevent your teeth from turning yellow in certain cases and discuss the treatment as well. Not all causes are preventable, but where ever you can intervene, we will guide you according to the situation of your teeth.
To make it simpler for you to understand, we will explain how discoloration works. There are two types of yellow or discolored teeth. There are teeth with external/extrinsic or surface stains, and the other type is teeth with intrinsic or internal stains. Different causes lead up to different type of discoloration.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Sometimes we are very careless in maintaining a good oral and dental hygiene. This not only affects the health of teeth and gums, but also causes your teeth to become yellow. This is how it works. When you refuse to brush and floss your teeth regularly, a thin film of bacteria and trapped food substances is build up on your teeth. This is called plaque and it makes your teeth look yellow.
The simplest way to keep your teeth clean and white is to brush and floss at least twice a day, every morning after breakfast and every night before going to bed. It would be great if you visited your dentist every six months for a thorough examination and also got your cleaning and polishing done, if required.
Diet and Social Habits
There are plenty of foods and drinks which cause your teeth to become yellow quite easily. These include tea, coffee, colored colas and sodas, wine, several fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, apples, cherries, berries etcetera. The best way to prevent discoloration from these foods and drinks is to maintain a good oral and dental hygiene. Apart from that, it would be even better if you reduce the intake of such foods and drinks.
The social habits which contribute to discoloration in teeth include smoking and drinking. Both of these elements are hazardous to your health as well, so the best thing to do is quit smoking or tobacco chewing and drinking for most benefits.
The extrinsic stains caused by the above mentioned factors are easily treated and removed by your hygienist, who uses scaling and dental pumice to get rid of the stains.
There are some materials used for fillings, which become stained with time, especially composite material. These make your teeth look more yellow and need to be replaced every few years. The only way to prevent this is to avoid colored foods and beverages or decrease their use.
Genetics will not determine the color of your teeth in particular. Genetics actually contribute to the thickness of the different layers of the tooth. The outermost layer is called enamel and is white in appearance. The thicker this layer, the whiter your teeth appear to be. The second layer, just below enamel, is called dentin. This layer has the yellowish coloration. If the thickness of enamel is less, determined by genetics, then your teeth will appear yellow because of the color of dentin showing through more. In this particular scenario, there is not much that you can do to prevent it. Treatment includes in-office bleaching and over-the-counter whitening products.
With advancing age, your teeth become yellow naturally. This is because the enamel of your teeth continues to wear off throughout your life and the yellow dentin shows through. Age is a factor which you cannot prevent.
Excessive Fluoride Intake
Does fluoride make your teeth yellow? There are two conditions which could lead up to excessive fluoride in your body or system. The usual source of fluoride is your drinking water. There are certain areas where your natural water contains more fluoride. In such areas, a lot of people have yellow or dark teeth. This condition is referred to as fluorosis. The excessive fluoride causes their enamel layer to be abnormally developed, leading to undesired teeth discoloration. Consider buying bottled water if you are located in an area that uses heavy amounts of fluoride in the water supply.
The second source of excessive fluoride includes toothpastes, mouthwashes and food supplements. These can also contribute to yellow staining of teeth. Products containing high concentrations of fluoride should be avoided.
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There are a few diseases which actually disrupt the development of enamel and dentin of teeth. Such conditions cause teeth to be yellow. Pregnant women sometimes suffer from certain infections and diseases, which cause abnormal development of teeth in the baby. For head and neck cancers, the chemotherapy and radiation therapy also cause yellowish discoloration of teeth.
Discolored teeth caused by diseases or their treatment are usually best treated by whitening methods or other esthetic procedures like crowns and veneers.
There are certain antibiotics which cause yellow or discoloration in teeth. These include tetracycline and doxycycline. If these are given to pregnant women or children under 8 years of age, the permanent teeth are affected. Antihypertensive drugs, antipsychotic medications and antihistamines are well known to cause yellowish discoloration of teeth as well. In such cases, your dentist will suggest the best line of treatment for your teeth. Bleaching or veneers are usually recommended.
There are certain mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine or cetylpridinium chloride, which also cause staining of teeth. Long term use of such mouthwashes should be avoided and in case of staining, scaling and polishing procedures by your hygienist will suffice as treatment.
It is important to understand how trauma can cause your teeth to become discolored. In case of an accident or fall, the inner most portion of your tooth, known as pulp, may become injured and bleed internally. The decomposed components from the blood clot and pulp tissue then travel through the dentin, leading to a discolored appearance of the traumatized tooth.
The first step in the treatment plan of traumatized teeth is root canal therapy. This is then followed by non-vital bleaching. Your dentist will carry out this treatment in the office. You will have to maintain your hygiene to maintain the bleaching results. Alternative treatment would include veneers and crowns.
We have thoroughly discussed the causes, prevention and treatment for yellow teeth. On a simple note, the best way to keep your life free from dental problems is to keep a good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing properly and regularly is the best prevention for most of your dental problems. Try to visit your dentist at least once or twice a year. Share these simple things with your family and friends also and keep smiling.
Here is to White teeth!