A common question put to dentists is “Why are my teeth yellow?”

A bright and radiant smile can boost your health and confidence. However, having discoloured teeth can affect this, especially when you don’t know how to treat it.

If you’re experiencing this, you’re not alone, as it’s common across the UK, with over 4 in 10 people opting for dental whitening as a cosmetic measure.

We’ve all heard of “Turkey Teeth”!

Although many people believe discoloured teeth are a result of poor oral health, that’s not always the case, as other factors can also cause them. It all starts with knowing what these factors are and how to deal with them.

Poor oral hygiene

This is the most commonly known cause of discoloured teeth. Many things fall under poor oral hygiene, with inadequate brushing and flossing being part of the key aspects.

Brushing your teeth helps remove food particles lodged between your teeth, inner cheeks, and tongue. Doing this eliminates tartar and plaque buildup, which, when left unchecked, can cause yellowish-brown stains on your tooth’s surface.

Flossing also helps clean and remove food particles that brushing may have missed. It’s advisable to brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly to avoid discoloured teeth and their corresponding challenges.

Consistency of these habits is the key to good oral hygiene. You may want to try an approved over-the-counter whitening toothpaste to remove the stains. Also, remember to consult your dentist if all other measures fail.

Dietary habits

Certain beverages and fruits can contribute to dental discolouration, as well as overall health problems. Although many health and wellness blogs talk about the effects of regular tea and coffee consumption on the teeth, not much is known about other dietary habits.

Highly pigmented fruits like berries, purple grapes, pomegranates, and black currants can stain your teeth if they are eaten regularly. In another breath, highly acidic foods like citrus fruits can erode your tooth enamel and cause your dentition to go off-colour.

The enamel is the protective covering on the surface of the teeth, but underneath it is dentin. The latter is porous, not strong, and ranges from yellow to grey. Therefore, when the enamel erodes, dentin is exposed and makes your teeth appear stained.

Take proactive steps like limiting your tea and coffee consumption to avoid making your teeth susceptible to staining. It helps to gargle water after consuming any of these food items to reduce staining.

Tobacco use

The nicotine and tar in tobacco-based products are notorious for many teeth discolourations. They penetrate the teeth and cause a gradual breakdown of dentin – the layer underneath the tooth enamel.

The most effective way to manage this is by discontinuing the use of all tobacco-based products. However, people already dealing with the long-term effects of nicotine stains can rely on composite bonding as a viable solution.

Many people opt for this cosmetic dental procedure because of its instant results. Although the average lifespan of cosmetic bonding is five years, depending on how well they are maintained, the procedure is loved by many.

One of the first things you may want to do is to quit tobacco gradually, especially if you’ve been using it for a long time. Doing this will reduce severe withdrawal symptoms and give your teeth a chance to recover.

People who quit abruptly report that their teeth hurt for several weeks after stoppage. That is known as oral sensitivity, but the local dentist can help with that.

Secondly, you may notice an increase in teeth grinding in the first few weeks after quitting nicotine and tobacco use. Fortunately, you won’t be left in the dark as long as you consult the dentist.

Getting Older

Like everything else in the body, the enamel wears down as you get older. That exposes the dentin underneath and makes the teeth appear yellowish and stained.

Another reason apart from enamel loss is the years of exposure to certain foods. As indicated in the first point, certain foods accelerate tooth discolouration. In this point, however, the focus is on the number of years you have been exposed to these high-pigmented foods.

As the body ages, its protective functions decline and affect performance and appearance. In other words, when you get older, the physiological decline makes it impossible to hide the defects your younger body used to handle easily.

That is why regular dental cleanings are recommended to help combat ageing effects on the teeth and oral health in general.

Last but not least, sometimes, genetic factors play a role in your teeth’s appearance. You cannot change your genetic makeup, but the dentist can use cosmetic procedures to whiten your teeth for that radiant smile. 

Photo by Arvind Philomin on Pexels.