Yellow teeth; nobody wants them. It can cost you the confidence to smile. So what causes discoloration of your teeth?
The first thing to understand about tooth colour is that the natural colour of teeth is not a bright white colour but more of a creamy white colour. It is also important to understand the key role played by dental plaque biofilm in the causation of discoloration on the outside of teeth (extrinsic discoloration).
Dental Plaque Biofilm which is not removed completely by inadequate brushing gets infiltrated by natural colour pigments from food and drinks. This may combine with mineral deposits from saliva to form a hardened stain particularly in areas where dental plaque biofilm has not been removed properly, especially around the necks of the teeth near the gum margins.
Here are some examples of how discoloration of teeth occurs:
- Smoking: The nicotine from smoking can leave a yellowish/brownish surface stain on your teeth by combining with dental plaque biofilm. Just another reason to kick the bad habit.
- Drinks: Colour pigments in tea and coffee combined with plaque biofilm are two of the most common causes of yellow stained teeth. Red wine and many other coloured beverages can give rise to staining in the presence of plaque biofilm.
- Dentin: Teeth can appear yellow when the enamel is thin and the dentin shows up through it. Dentin is a yellow/brown live material inside your teeth, under the enamel. Most of the time, when you look in the mirror and see some yellow, this is it. A thick creamy whitish enamel layer normally covers dentin and blocks the visibility of the yellow dentin underneath. However, it’s important to note, that enamel cannot block the visibility of stains because they are extrinsic on the outside of the enamel.
- Age: As you get older, your teeth can turn yellow. This is due to the enamel wearing away from exposure to acids and from chewing. Your enamel also thins with age.
- Genetics: Tooth colour shade variation in the population is normal and particular types of variation including more yellowish coloured teeth can run in families.
Remember, keeping up a good oral health routine, by brushing your teeth properly twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste can prevent the buildup of staining on your teeth and assist in having a long-lasting, healthy, white smile.