Thanks to so many advertisements with models showing off their sparkly white teeth and all the different types of teeth whitening products available on the market, it’s no wonder that most of us associate white teeth with good oral health.
But the truth be told, a change in teeth color does not necessarily mean you have bad or unhealthy teeth. Healthy teeth color can be white… or varying shades of yellow! To assess one’s oral health, we must look beyond color to determine the actual health of the teeth.
Are teeth naturally white, or is yellow teeth normal too?
But what is the natural color of teeth, you ask? Our natural teeth color is, in fact, slightly yellow. Ironically, this means that it is actually unnatural to have super-white teeth! Tooth color results from the thickness of the tooth’s outer coating, known as the enamel, coupled with the darkness of the underlying dentin. Our enamel is slightly translucent, but the dentin can be yellow, or even shades of amber and red, which is why, depending on enamel thickness, the dentin color from below the surface can sometimes show through.
So if you often wonder, “why are my teeth yellow when I brush them every day?” I wouldn’t sweat it too much! Some folks just have naturally thinner enamel than others, which can give off a more yellow or even a slightly brown smile.
Causes of tooth discoloration
Other than yellow teeth, types of discoloration of teeth can occur for various reasons. One that is really common and affects us all is aging. It is completely normal for the enamel to gradually weaken over time due to many factors, slowly exposing the dentin and making your teeth appear yellower.
Yellow teeth are also a result of consuming staining foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, and red wine, as well as tobacco use. Other things like medication or certain diseases are also known to weaken the enamel and cause tooth discoloration too.
When should you be worried about discoloration?
Natural tooth discoloration occurs gradually over time. However, if you notice a tooth suddenly turning gray, you may have some kind of infection or dental trauma that warrants a visit to your dentist, stat! Grayish, or in worst cases, black teeth alongside any pain and discomfort is a sign of tooth decay. Unfortunately, when it reaches this stage, nothing much can be done to reverse the color of the damaged or dying tooth.
Recommended whitening dental care products
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t whiten your teeth or that you should stay away from teeth whitening products. Having pearly whites can undoubtedly give a boost of confidence! What I’m trying to explain is that pretty white teeth can sometimes hide ugly problems, and teeth color alone isn’t reliable in determining one’s oral health.
If you know your teeth are healthy but stains are cramping your smile, here are some home whitening products I can recommend that have worked for my patients and me. For extreme tooth discoloration, consider cosmetic dentistry. Dental or porcelain veneers are custom-made shells made to cover the front surface of the teeth to improve their appearance, whether its shape, color, size, or length. Nevertheless, this procedure requires at least three trips to a cosmetic dentist, so whitening strips and pens are much easier and fuss-free options.
The Colgate® Optic White® Overnight Teeth Whitening Pen is super simple to use and great for last-minute fixes. It’s suitable for sensitive teeth, safe on the enamel, and vegan and sugar-free too! Crest’s 3D Whitestrips Professional Effects Teeth Whitening Strips are convenient and effective, particularly if you want something that will give you instant whitening. All you have to do is apply the strips to cover the top and bottom layers of the teeth for an instantly brighter smile!
Another whitening product you can consider are Crest Whitening Emulsions. The emulsion comes with a wand applicator and uses enamel-safe technology. To achieve good results, apply the product on dry teeth daily, up to four times a day. Allow 30 minutes before eating or drinking so the highly active peroxide droplets can get to work to whiten the teeth without causing any sensitivities.
But remember, if you plan to have dental crowns or veneers, you should whiten your teeth before getting them to match the rest of your teeth. If you get veneers or crowns and then whiten the rest of your teeth, whitening products won't brighten them to match your new sparkly smile!
Although more than half of Americans say, they feel insecure about their teeth, not many practice good dental health. Only around 69% of Americans reported adhering to the recommended twice-a-day brushing schedule, which leaves 30% of the population who aren’t brushing enough.
So if you’re concerned about your teeth color, you should visit your dentist or dental hygienist. Depending solely on whitening products will only give you the illusion of healthy teeth, but it won’t fix the underlying problem or the yellow teeth cause. Remember that whitening does not and should not replace a good oral hygiene regimen or high-quality dental care. Especially if you want your teeth whitening products to be effective, brushing at least twice a day is a must!