Why do Teeth Turn Yellow?
There are two basic reasons why our teeth turn yellow:
(1) They get stained
(2) They lose their outer protective layer, known as enamel
Here are some examples of what causes teeth to change color and turn yellow:
Plaque & Tartar Buildup
It could be that your teeth are simply darker because there is too much plaque buildup on them. A simple dental cleaning can remove this buildup and fix your problem giving you a whiter and brighter smile. If you haven’t seen a dentist in a long time, a dental cleaning should be your first step towards achieving whiter teeth.
Nicotine, cigarette tar and other tobacco products stain your teeth and turn them yellow. The longer you’ve been smoking, the darker and yellower your teeth will appear.
Foods & Drinks
Food products containing certain additives can stain and darken our teeth. For instance, drinking coffee and tea regularly can turn teeth yellower over time. Additionally, red wine, colas, fruit juices, berries and many spices also contain additives that stain teeth and cause them to turn yellow.
Acids destroy your enamel to expose the underlying layer which results in permanently yellower teeth. Carbonated sodas and fruit juices contain acids which damage and destroy your enamel over time. If you can’t kick your soda habit then be sure to at brush your teeth frequently and drink lots of water to wash away the acid buildup from teeth surfaces. Acids can also be found in our stomach fluid which is very corrosive and wears out teeth rapidly. Frequent regurgitation, as evidenced in bulimics or those with acid re-flux, destroys the protective enamel layer and turns teeth yellow. Be sure to brush and clean your teeth very thoroughly should you ever vomit so that your teeth are not exposed to these acids for prolonged periods.
As we age, we gradually lose some of our protective enamel layer which makes teeth appear yellower.
Grinding your teeth not only destroys and damages your teeth, but also causes them to change color and turn yellow. Heavy grinders wear away their enamel and expose the underlying tooth structure, causing their teeth to appear darker.
Now that you understand what causes teeth to turn yellow, lets examine who is and who isn’t a good candidate for teeth whitening treatment.
Poor Candidates for Teeth Whitening
Only your dentist can determine how good of a candidate you are for teeth whitening treatment. The effectiveness of teeth whitening depends on why your teeth turned yellow in the first place. If your teeth have turned yellow for any reason other than internal staining, they will not respond too kindly to whitening treatments. Here are some examples of cases which aren’t good candidates for whitening treatment:
Lots of Existing Dental Work
Teeth whitening products don’t alter the color of your existing dental restorations such as dental fillings or crowns. Consequently, if your mouth contains lots of existing dental work, especially located on your front teeth, you should consult a dentist prior to starting a whitening regimen. Otherwise, you may end up with an undesirable mismatch between your actual teeth and these existing dental restorations.
Teeth whitening isn’t very effective if your teeth have turned yellow due to the loss of the protective enamel layer. This could happen due to prolonged exposures to acidic products, grinding or simply as a result of aging. These cases are better candidates for cosmetic dentistry treatments with dental bonding or Porcelain Veneers.
Plaque Covered Teeth
Teeth appear yellow if they are covered with heavy plaque and tartar buildup. A professional dental cleaning can remove these stains and significantly whitens your smile. Be sure to improve your brushing and flossing habits moving forward to maintain these results over time.
Good Candidates for Teeth Whitening
The best candidates for teeth whitening treatment are those whose teeth have turned yellow due to smoking, coffee, tea, etc. The whitening gel penetrates teeth and breaks down the internal stains to significantly brighten your smile. There are many different treatments to whiten your teeth, ranging from take-home bleaching gels to whitening toothpastes to professional whitening treatments at the dentist. To learn more about whether or not you are a good candidate for teeth whitening and what is the best treatment, consult with your dentist. If you live in San Clemente and would like a complimentary cosmetic consultation, feel free to contact us for more information.
Brush ‘n Floss Yo Teeth!
Ali John Jazayeri, DDS