We all want to retain a brilliant white smile. However, teeth don’t get whiter over time. In fact, due to lifestyle habits and the natural aging process, teeth become yellowed or stained if there is no intervention. Understanding the facts about tooth stains can help you better manage the color of your smile and even extend your professional teeth whitening results.
Most causes of tooth discoloration can be broken down into two broad categories: extrinsic and intrinsic stains.
Extrinsic stains refer to discoloration on the surface of the tooth, or the hard outer enamel layer of the teeth. The primary culprit to extrinsic stains is lifestyle habits, which includes drinking coffees or teas, chewing tobacco and smoking. If you regularly consume dark-colored foods and beverages that contain high amounts of chromogens, you’re highly likely to suffer extrinsic discoloration within your smile. Chromogens are pigment-producing substances that are known to stick to tooth enamel. They can be found in tomato sauces, blueberries and red wine. If the food or drink is also acidic, you’ve got a double whammy for staining, as the acidity can erode the enamel and make it even easier for chromogens to latch on.
Dental staining can also occur from the inside out. In other words, if you are taking a certain medication that alters the properties of the inner dentin layer or enamel of your teeth, you may suffer from dulled or discolored smile. Such medications include certain antibiotics prescribed for children and acne-fighting drugs in teens and adults. Chemotherapy on the head and neck can also result in intrinsic stains. Some patients even find that over-the-counter antihistamines’, blood pressure medications and Albuterol can cause a less brilliant tooth shade. Another type of intrinsic staining is fluorosis. Though rare, consuming too much fluoride can lead to yellowing of the teeth. This is more likely to happen in areas where well water is the primary source of drinking.
It is important to let a dentist properly diagnose your tooth stains and determine whether you can make some lifestyle changes to prevent future staining or if your discoloration is beyond your control. Yellow teeth can be caused by a wide range of factors, including the following:
- Aging Process
- Health (overall health and dental health)
- Lifestyle Habits
Ways a Dentist Can Help
At Park South Dentistry, our top priority is to restore the health of your smile. This may be enough to reverse your yellow teeth into a brilliant white smile. We can perform a professional dental cleaning to remove many extrinsic stains and plaque accumulation from your tooth surfaces. We will also make sure you have adequate saliva production and fluoride use, as these are two primary ways to protect the health of your smile and avoid tooth stains.
However, if you want more dramatic results or if you’ve battled stubborn stains for a longer period of time, you may consider professional teeth whitening. Our office uses the latest technology available when it comes to whitening. While you are welcome to choose at-home teeth whitening with custom trays and top-grade bleaching gel, we also offer in-office whitening for faster results. Find out what is causing your yellow smile and let us fix it!