It’s a common assumption that daily brushing and flossing lead to whiter teeth, but this isn’t always the case. Even if you brush your teeth daily, you can still develop yellow spots and stains on your teeth. Why are your teeth yellow despite good oral hygiene?
Continue reading to learn more about why teeth become yellow, including why staining can still happen despite brushing your teeth every day.
Why Can Teeth Become Yellow?
Many people assume teeth are perfectly white, but a tooth’s natural colour is within a range of shades. Yellow or greyish-yellow teeth are completely normal, especially with age. Your teeth can darken with time as natural changes occur and stains accumulate on their surface.
Your enamel, the protective layer of your teeth, can wear down with time, thinning and allowing your dentin to appear through the enamel. Dentin is the layer of the tooth underneath the enamel, a deep yellow to brown colour. While thicker enamel can prevent the yellow colour of the dentin, your teeth are still at risk of staining from foods and drinks.
There are several possible causes for yellow teeth, including:
An accident causing physical trauma to your tooth can lead to a yellow appearance. Damage can crack tooth enamel, causing the dentin to appear more clearly.
Tetracycline antibiotics can stain your teeth while they’re still developing in the gums. Previous research found that these medications can permanently stain your teeth. Your mother taking these antibiotics in the second half of her pregnancy or taking them before age 8 can lead to a grey tooth colour.
Many drinks can stain your teeth, including coffee, tea, sports drinks, dark sodas, and red wine. If left on the surface of your teeth, these drinks can leave stubborn stains.
Genetics may factor into the colour of your teeth. Tooth colour is a spectrum of shades, and you may tend towards yellow or grey shades.
Tooth grinding (bruxism) is a condition where you clench or grind your teeth, often without knowing it. This grinding and gnashing can weaken your tooth enamel and lead to a more yellow shade.
While fluoride benefits your teeth, too much can lead to yellow or yellow-brown spots. This staining is known as fluorosis. Fluoridated well-water, fluoride toothpaste and prescribed fluoride tablets can lead to overexposure to this mineral if taken in excess.
Many foods can stain your teeth if not washed away fast enough. Red pasta sauces, dark berries, and other foods can stain your teeth, leading to a yellower look.
The nicotine and tar in cigarettes can lead to yellow and stained teeth. This staining can worsen with time.
Teeth naturally become more yellow with age due to enamel wearing away and acids from foods and drinks. A yellower look for teeth is common as enamel thins with time, but some teeth take on a darker shade because of other stains.
Why Are Your Teeth Yellow Despite Brushing Them Daily?
Yellower teeth are natural, but you may want a brighter smile. If your teeth are still looking yellow despite brushing them every day, there may be several reasons why this is happening. You may be brushing your teeth ineffectively, frequently having foods and drinks that stain your teeth, or experiencing changes to your enamel.
Poor Brushing Habits
You should brush your teeth at least twice daily for 2 minutes for good oral hygiene. You may already be doing this, but your brushing technique may leave room for plaque build-up, which leaves a yellow stain.
Ensure you’re reaching all the cracks and crevices of the teeth, including the inside, outside and chewing surfaces. Brush in a circular motion to protect your gums, and consider using a whitening toothpaste to help remove stains. They feature a mild abrasive to help whiten your teeth.
Food & Drink Staining
Your diet may have several teeth-staining foods and drinks, which can yellow your teeth if you don’t clean them. Watch out for common stain-causing culprits, including:
- Red wine
- Grape and cranberry juice
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce
Brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after meals with these products to help protect your teeth from unnecessary stains.
Changes to Your Enamel
Even if you’re brushing your teeth well every day, your enamel thinning can lead to yellow teeth. While these changes can happen with time, you can help prevent staining in several ways. Practicing good oral hygiene, avoiding certain foods and drinks, and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings.
You Don’t Need to Live With Yellow Teeth
Your teeth can naturally become yellow with age, but some people may want brighter smiles. If you want whiter teeth, in-office treatments can help. Your dentist can whiten your teeth by up to several shades, helping you feel more confident when you smile. Contact your dentist if you’re interested in teeth whitening—you can brighten your smile in as little as one appointment.