Posted on: 01 October, 2021
Yellow teeth or other discolouration aren’t usually a sign of a dental problem, but they may affect one’s willingness to smile openly.
3 minute read
Like all concerns about your smile, the best person to talk to of course, is your dentist. They can give you professional advice on how to prevent stains and recommend safe cosmetic treatments to whiten teeth.
Read our quick guide to find out the most common reasons for yellow teeth and what can be done about them.
Some people's teeth are naturally more yellow than others, but teeth can also become stained or discoloured for many reasons. There are two types of tooth discolouration:
Having some idea about the cause of yellow teeth or discolouration will help your dentist to suggest ways to prevent the problem as well as suitable options to treat it. Common reasons for yellow teeth include:
As we age, the outer enamel layer gradually wears down showing more of the soft dentine layer beneath. Enamel is translucent, while dentine has a naturally yellow hue.
Enamel wears down faster if you regularly consume acidic food or drink or if you grind or clench your teeth (a condition known as bruxism).
Regular brushing, flossing and a healthy diet can effectively help you reduce plaque build-up on teeth. Plaque is yellow in appearance and hardens into calculus if it's not removed. Tooth decay also breaks down tooth enamel, exposing more of the yellow dentine beneath.
By simply keeping a good oral hygiene routine that includes professional cleans with your hygienist, you can help lift stains from teeth, whitening their appearance.
Food and drinks with strong colour pigments (tannins) can leave stains on teeth. Common culprits include:
The more often these are in contact with your teeth, the more likely they are to leave stains behind. If you help avoid staining by rinsing your mouth with water directly after consuming these types of food and drinks.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can leave stubborn yellow or brown stains on teeth that can't always be removed by simply brushing.
Smoking also increases your risk of developing oral health problems including gum disease and oral cancer, among other health risks.
An injury to the mouth can sometimes cause teeth to darken. In some cases, even a root canal treatment may leave the tooth darker in colour, if the deadened pulp or dentin inside the tooth isn’t removed entirely. If you’re concerned about stained teeth after root canal therapy, ask your dentist about what can be done to restore whiteness.
Health conditions such as metabolic diseases and liver disease can sometimes affect tooth enamel and dentine.
Some treatments for medical problems may also lead to tooth discolouration, such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Tooth discolouration is a side effect of many medications, including some types of:
Before you take steps to whiten your teeth, you should first address any manageable causes of discolouration, otherwise the problem is likely to keep coming back. This might include:
If you're interested in covering up teeth stains or whitening your smile, your first step should be a consultation with EVP Dental.
Our dentists will examine your teeth and explain what your options are, making sure you understand how much treatments cost and any possible risks.
Depending on what type of discolouration you have, treatments may include:
It's recommended that you regularly see a hygienist for oral hygiene maintenance in addition to your regular check-ups with your dentist.
As well as helping to lower your oral health risks, professional teeth cleaning and scaling can also remove hardened yellow plaque and surface stains.
Yellowing or discolouration caused by food and drink or tobacco may be covered up by regular teeth whitening using a special bleaching gel to whiten teeth by up to several shades.
Dentists are the only registered professionals authorised to use a higher concentration of bleaching agent for faster results.
At EVP Dental, we provide safe and effective whitening treatments to be used in your own home and as well as in-chair professional whitening with our dentist, Dr Josefina Guimaraes.
Teeth whitening is not a permanent treatment and the results fade over time. However, once you have your teeth whitened, it’s easy to maintain that whiteness from home with a top-up kit. Teeth whitening results are improved when you have had a professional check-up and clean within the two months leading up to whitening treatment.
If you’re thinking about whitening your smile, it’s best to have your teeth and gums assessed by a dentist first. They will determine your suitability for treatment and explain any risks involved.
There are many over-the-counter whitening products available in Australia, including toothpastes, strips and gels. These products are often less effective than home whitening kits provided by a dentist, because they contain a lower concentration of bleaching agent and involve less contact time on your teeth. However, they can be helpful for topping up professionally whitened teeth, helping your white smile to last longer. Ask us about which over-the-counter products are best for maintaining your white smile.
More commonly used to cover up minor damage or imperfections in teeth, tooth bonding can also be an option for covering up stains or patches of discolouration.
This minimally invasive treatment may be provided by a dentist in just one visit. It involves layering composite resin onto the tooth in your preferred shade and then shaping and polishing it into place. Composite resin is the same material used in white fillings to seal gaps in teeth left by tooth decay.
Veneers are a versatile cosmetic treatment option that sit over the front of teeth and can be used to change minor aesthetic flaws, including whitening their appearance.
Porcelain veneers (also known as indirect veneers) are designed in the practice and then custom made in a dental lab. Porcelain veneers are bonded to tooth enamel, while composite veneers are made from composite resin that's layered directly on to teeth, then shaped and hardened before being polished for a final finish.
Cosmetic treatment with veneers requires teeth to be gently filed down (about the thickness of a fingernail) for the porcelain or composite to bond properly. Treatment is irreversible and requires proper care to help them last as they’re intended to. Veneers can last for several years before needing to be replaced.
Crowns are small caps that cover a tooth and are used to restore strength and aesthetics. When a tooth has been weakened by general wear and tear, a teeth grinding habit or an injury, the entire tooth structure is at risk of being lost. Crowns can help to protect the tooth by repairing the damage and reinforcing its strength.
Similar to veneers, crowns are created in a dental lab and made of porcelain, zirconia or both, depending on the location of the tooth being replaced. Crowns require a little more tooth preparation than veneers and are bonded into place.
To find out more about teeth whitening, veneers and other ways to whiten your smile, make an appointment at EVP Dental today.