Why are my teeth yellow? Reasons for teeth staining and what to do

Texas teeth whitening

A smile is often the first thing we notice in a person, which probably explains why we’re all looking for quicker and more effective ways to get our pearly whites looking even more dazzling.

But, new statistics released by SimplyHealth for Denplan, for World Oral Health Day, highlight just how unhappy we are with our teeth. In fact, 75% of Brits admit to feeling self-conscious about their smiles. And, a lot of their concerns can be blamed on lifestyle choices.

We all know that smoking can cause teeth staining, but there are some other surprising ways you could be hindering a whiter, brighter smile. We find out where a lot of us go wrong…

1. The morning coffee order

If you thought that by ordering a milky coffee you’d be doing your teeth a favor – think again. A lot of us assume that drinking black coffee will cause teeth to stain faster than options like lattes and flat whites, but it’s not entirely true.

“You could be doing the opposite as milk-based drinks contain the sugar lactose, which gets broken down to an acid and can damage enamel,”.

When enamel is lost, teeth are more prone to yellowing.

2. Skipping a hygienist appointment

If you’ve ever been told by your dentist to book in for a hygienist appointment once a year, then you probably had very little plans of ever actually following through with it. But, by doing so, you’re allowing teeth staining to build up.

“I see a lot of people investing their money in professional whitening, but most won’t book in for hygienist appointments.” 

“If you go once a year, you’ll be making that whitening treatment last longer, and removing the surface plaque that could be making your teeth look superficially more yellow.”

3. Frequent snacking

Most of us realize that some pigmented foods can cause teeth to stain, it’s got more to do with the frequency of snacking and eating, rather than the type of food itself…

“If you eat three meals a day and you’re brushing regularly, you’re getting rid of most of the bacteria and acid. When you snack throughout the day, you don’t tend to brush, so they build up on the teeth and weaken enamel.”

4. Wine choices

Red wine is a top offender for causing teeth staining, so you might have thought that you were making a safe choice by ordering white wine instead. Sadly, you might not be making much difference.

Here are 5 natural remedies that may help to get rid of yellow teeth at home. These are an alternative to teeth whitening options that a dentist may offer:

1. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Using a toothpaste containing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide may help reduce the yellowing of the teeth.

It is possible to make a paste at home by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.

A 2012 study found that using a toothpaste containing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide reduces tooth staining and improves whiteness.

2. Vitamin C

A 2007 study found that vitamin C deficiency may worsen periodontitis, which is a buildup of bacteria on the teeth and gums. This buildup contributes to discoloration.

It follows that keeping topped up on vitamin C may reduce discoloration of the teeth. More research is needed into whether vitamin C consumption may have a whitening effect on the teeth.

3. Fruit enzymes

When added to toothpaste, certain fruit enzymes may combat discoloration.

A 2012 study found a toothpaste that contains papain enzymes from the papaya fruit and bromelain enzyme from pineapples helps remove tooth stains.

4. Apple cider vinegar

When it is used in small quantities, apple cider vinegar may reduce staining on the teeth and improve whiteness.

A 2014 study found that apple cider vinegar has a whitening effect on teeth. It should be noted, however, that this was a study on animals.

Apple cider vinegar may damage the surface of the teeth if used too often. More research is needed into the use of apple cider vinegar, as a tooth whitener. In the meantime, it should be used sparingly and with caution.

5. Coconut oil pulling

A 2015 study found that oil pulling or swishing in the mouth with coconut oil could be an effective way to reduce plaque buildup on the teeth. As plaque buildup can contribute to yellowing, it follows that coconut oil pulling may reduce discoloration.

More research is needed into coconut oil pulling to establish the extent to which it may help whiten the teeth.

6. Brushing frequently

This is most important after consuming food or drink that may discolor the teeth, such as:

  • red wine
  • coffee
  • blueberries
  • beetroot

Here are some tooth brushing, best practice tips:

  • brush two to three times a day
  • brush for 2 to 3 minutes at a time
  • be sure to brush every surface of each tooth
  • make circular motions when brushing
  • avoid brushing the gums or brush them very gently
  • be sure to reach the teeth at the back of the mouth

7. Whitening toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste may help reduce the yellowing of the teeth and improve whiteness. These products contain stronger ingredients than standard toothpaste, helping to remove tough food stains.

Whitening toothpaste does not contain bleach but may contain a small amount of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals help to lighten tooth color.

According to a 2014 study, whitening toothpaste typically lightens tooth color by one or two shades.

8. Tray-based tooth whiteners

Some dentists offer tray-based tooth whitening, but home versions are also available over-the-counter. Tray-based tooth whiteners can lighten the teeth by one or two shades.

This tooth whitening method involves wearing a fitted tray over the teeth. The tray contains a bleaching gel and is worn for 2 to 4 hours a day or overnight.

It is important to look for products that contain 10 percent carbamide peroxide. These are recommended as safe by the American Dental Association (ADA).

9. Whitening strips

Whitening strips deliver a thin layer of peroxide gel on plastic strips. These are shaped to fit onto the surface of the teeth.

There is a range of whitening strip products available online and instructions for them vary. Most suggest they should be applied twice a day for 30 minutes.

Strips can lighten the teeth by one or two shades. That said, a 2016 study notes there is no evidence whitening strips are any more effective than 10 percent carbamide peroxide gel. The use of carbamide peroxide gel is the ADA recommended method.

10. Whitening rinses

Whitening rinses are another way to get rid of yellow teeth. They contain oxygen sources such as hydrogen peroxide. These react with the compounds staining the teeth, helping to lift them.

Using a rinse twice a day for 1 minute at a time can lead to a one to two shade improvement in tooth color within 3 months.

11. Activated charcoal

Toothpaste that contains activated charcoal may help to reduce staining on the teeth.

A 2017 review found that charcoal toothpaste may help remove external staining on teeth. Further studies are needed into the extent or rate of stain removal that can be expected.

Charcoal toothpaste should be used with caution, as they can cause staining. The charcoal may be hard to remove from the crevices of the teeth and around restorations.

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions, so get an appointment today.

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