Tooth discoloration usually happens gradually, and many of us don’t notice the change in the color of our teeth until we see a particular photo or catch a glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and suddenly the yellowness of our teeth hits us like a bus. How long have they looked like that? Why didn’t I see it until today? Once you’ve noticed the discoloration of your teeth, it’s hard to keep your mind off of what your smile looks like. Yellowing of the teeth happens for many reasons and is a natural part of aging, but luckily for those of us in the 21st century, there are many ways we can combat this natural progression. If you’re curious about why teeth yellow and what you can do to stop it, read on to learn a bit more about how discoloration happens!
The Three Types of Discoloration
There are three types of discoloration, and yours may be due to any combination of these reasons. They include:
- Extrinsic Discoloration: This type of discoloration happens when external factors dye and stain your tooth’s enamel. Drinks like red wine, coffee, and tea can all stain your teeth as well as foods like curry and blueberries. Smoking and using chewing tobacco are another surefire way to extrinsically discolor your teeth.
- Intrinsic Discoloration: Discoloration that is intrinsic starts in the inner layer of your teeth, called the dentin. This can happen for a multitude of reasons, including an excessive exposure to fluoride as a child, early trauma to the teeth, or exposure to tetracycline antibiotics at an early age. Alternatively, internal bleeding may cause discoloration of the teeth, as well as a rare condition called Dentinogenesis imperfecta which causes purple, gray, or amber discolorations in the teeth.
- Natural Discoloration with Age: Our enamel thins as we go through life, meaning there is less of a pearly white barrier covering your yellowish dentin, causing this layer to become more prominent with time and teeth to appear yellower.
Keeping the Brightness
Discoloration associated with age and external stains can be easy to remove or whitened but changing the color of an intrinsically stained tooth can prove more difficult. To keep your teeth white, consider brushing after engaging in tooth-staining behaviors like drinking coffee or eating dark colored foods. Quick action can help prevent stains from setting and keep your teeth whiter for longer. Flossing regularly will also help keep your teeth strong and healthy and free from decay, a major factor in yellowing. And while yellowing is completely natural over time, there are a multitude of at-home and in-office whitening procedures you can use to help brighten your smile! In one session in your dentist’s chair, you can brighten you smile by over ten shades! Using a whitening toothpaste is another great way to keep your smile shining.
If you have questions about how to keep your teeth bright and white, or if you would like to learn more about the whitening procedures we offer, give us a call at Manus Dental in Yorkville, Lake Zurich, or Hyde Park to schedule a consultation today!