A clean, bright smile is one of the key factors in looking and feeling at the top of your game every day. If your teeth are yellow or stained, it can affect your self-esteem and make you embarrassed to talk to people or reluctant to smile for photos. Fortunately, most cases of tooth discoloration come with relatively simple fixes. The method you’ll use to whiten your teeth depends primarily on what’s causing the stains, so below, we’ll go over some of the most common culprits and how to fix the unsightly damage they cause.
- Whitening Plaque-Stained Teeth
Brushing alone cannot fully remove plaque from your teeth, so over time it can accumulate and cause surface staining. There are a few things you can do about plaque stains, and none of them are too complicated! You could switch to brushing with a whitening toothpaste, use a tooth-bleaching product, or experiment with natural stain removers. One unexpected option? Using apples or strawberries: the fruits have a fiber-rich texture that’s ideal for scrubbing and loosening plaque, and they also contain malic acid, which is an active ingredient in many whitening products.
- Eliminating Food and Drink Discoloration
It’s just a fact: certain foods stain your teeth. Coffee probably jumps to your mind immediately; other offenders are sodas, wine, sports drinks, pasta sauce, vinegar, and berries. Another that you might not know of is tea–even lighter versions like green or white, though black tea is still the worst. To combat food staining, pick up a jar of activated charcoal, a natural product that lifts surface stains off teeth. These days, activated charcoal is often sold in mouth-friendly flavors like mint, so you won’t have to gag your way through the experience. Whitening toothpaste is also helpful.
- Fighting Age-Related Tooth Discoloration
You know about the standard complaints of aging–achy joints, memory a little less sharp than it was–but tooth discoloration isn’t discussed as often. Unlike most of the others on this list, age-related yellowing is not caused by surface stains, but by worn-down enamel and calcified tissue known as “secondary dentin.” Secondary dentin begins to grow once our teeth are fully formed and rooted, and continues to grow slowly over the course of the adult life. It’s darker and more opaque than the “primary dentin” that lies closest to the enamel, but will show through translucent enamel-worn teeth. There’s no 100% effective cure for age-related yellowing, but at-home whitening kits can help.
- Getting Rid of Stains from Smoking
It’s well-known that the most visible sign of a smoker is the yellow or brown teeth that tobacco products cause. If you’re addicted to cigarettes or chewing tobacco, it’s embarrassing to broadcast that fact each time you open your mouth. Fortunately, tobacco stains mostly affect the outer layer of the teeth rather than penetrating further in, so a product like a whitening gel with peroxide can help reverse the yellowing.
- In-Office Whitening for Medication Discoloring
A side effect of tetracycline antibiotics is yellowing or graying of the teeth, and unfortunately, since this happens from the inside-out rather than the outside-in, it’s not as simple as scrubbing your teeth with bleach. The same applies if you’ve been exposed to too much fluoride in your water, or over-used rinses, you might have dental fluorisis, which causes yellow or brown spots on the teeth. However, this doesn’t mean that your dentist can’t help you! There are two options to address medication-related tooth discoloration. First, you could explore a professional in-office teeth whitening treatment that uses gel and a bleaching light to penetrate deeper into the tooth. Alternately, if your teeth are too damaged for laser bleaching, your dentist could cover the stained teeth with veneers, thin porcelain shells that adhere to the surface of your teeth, covering current stains and protecting against future discoloration.
About Rowlett Family Dentistry:
Dr. Marneni graduated from New York School of Dentistry which is very prestigious dental school. Regular training in the advancements of cosmetic and family dentistry as well as continuing education are a must with any practice. Dr. Marneni has more than 400 credit hours which keeps her absolutely current with her techniques, procedures and technology. Always having a passion to learn and infuse the best practices in her practice keeps her and her staff on top.