Why are my teeth yellow? Can yellow teeth really become white? These are certainly some of the burning questions that those with yellow teeth constantly ask themselves. Of course their worries are valid. Having stained teeth not only limits one’s freedom to express themselves, but you also risk being an object of ridicule or a victim of endless yellow teeth jokes, which may leave you with low self-esteem.
Yellow teeth stains manifest themselves as yellow spots or as a uniform yellow substance that appears throughout the teeth. The stains (either dark yellow or light yellow) may affect either one, a few or all teeth, depending on causes, one’s habits, or the period of infection. Teeth stains are, therefore, best treated, removed, and most importantly avoided when we know what makes them turn yellow in the first place.
There are various reasons why teeth turn yellow. The key causes include:
- Tobacco – Both chewing and smoking tobacco are common causes of yellow teeth. Yellow stains are caused by nicotine (a substance found in tobacco). And whereas nicotine is basically colorless, when combined with oxygen, it results in yellowing of teeth.
- Foods and beverages – Some beverages and foods, especially those with intense colors such as red wine, cola, tea, coffee, cherries, and berries are known to cause teeth stains. Dentists agree that substances that stain white materials can similarly stain teeth in the same manner. Some surprising foods that are also responsible for stained teeth include apples and potatoes- the stain causing residue from these foods infiltrate or stick to the surface of enamel thereby forming stains.
- Certain medications – The use of antibiotics such as doxycycline or tetracycline are common causes of discolored teeth in children, especially as their permanent teeth develop. Staining substances from these medicines become incorporated within the enamel structure as it develops, creating a yellowish enamel. Occasionally, some treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy involving the neck and head areas for cancers can turn the glossy color of teeth to a yellow tint.
- Trauma – If your teeth get physically injured, they may not only develop cracks, but also break. As a result, the damaged areas may easily get infiltrated by staining substances within the mouth which are responsible for yellow stains. In addition, tissues within the tooth may get injured and even bleed internally, with dead tissues and blood within the tooth infiltrating the dentin and eventually ending up on the inner side of the enamel. The end result is yellow teeth stains or some other form of teeth discoloration.
- Fluoride – Excessive fluoride intake causes yellowing of teeth. When water with high levels of fluoride, or fluoride supplements is/are consumed regularly, it finds its way onto teeth where it leaves yellow stains. Fluoride may also be ingested by children who use excessive fluoride toothpaste. Perhaps you may have noticed that most or all people who live in a certain region have stained teeth. It is very likely that water sources in that particular locality have high fluoride levels such that even those who migrate there and stay for a while are eventually affected in the same way.
In order to determine how to get rid of stained teeth, you must first establish the actual cause of the stains. Besides, you need to figure out whether the teeth stains are the intrinsic or extrinsic type. Extrinsic yellow stains are easier to remove since the stains are just on the surface of the teeth while intrinsic stains are more difficult to remove as they are beneath or within the enamel. Some of the teeth treatment techniques to get teeth white include:
- Using whitening gels – These are highly effective for teeth whitening but are not recommended for people with gum disease and other dental problems.
- Dental floss- Use dental floss after meals in order to clean your teeth (including the spaces between adjacent teeth) and any stains that may be left thereon to prevent accumulation.