Whether its intrinsic or extrinsic stains, tooth discoloration can cause a tremendous sense of insecurity of most people. That said, tooth discoloration can be a byproduct of many things including health factors, medication, or poor oral hygiene. Generally speaking, tooth discoloration falls into two distinct categories, intrinsic and extrinsic. Stains affecting the enamel are considered intrinsic while extrinsic stains are those that impact the inner structure of the tooth. While there are exceptions, tooth discoloration is not always indicative of a dental problem. In fact, in most cases, stained teeth are very much healthy. In this article, we will take a closer look at what leads to teeth yellowing and other forms of discoloration and also detail a few ways to brighten your smile from the comfort of your own home.
As noted in the preface of this article, stains that impact one’s tooth enamel are extrinsic stains. Lifestyle is one of the main contributors to this type of staining. For example, tobacco, wine, and coffee are notorious for causing discoloration. It is also worth noting that the foods and drinks that can stain clothes can also stain teeth as well, especially those that are dark in color like chocolate, balsamic vinegar, spaghetti sauces, and certain fruit juices, for example. The same applies to certain fruits and vegetables. While they may be a great source of nutrition, blueberries, pomegranates, and beets, for example, contain chromogens, which can bond to the enamel and cause discoloration. Also, some fruits and vegetables are naturally very acidic and can erode tooth enamel, which, in turn, makes it easier for teeth to become stained.
Intrinsic stains are more substantial than their extrinsic counterparts in that they occur in the tooth’s dentin, dense bone tissue that makes up nearly the entire tooth. In addition to poor oral hygiene, intrinsic stains can be the result of certain medications like antibiotics, for example. Intrinsic stains are usually brown or yellow and primarily affect the anterior teeth. These stains can also be caused by some prescription-strength mouthwashes like chlorhexidine gluconate, for example. While it is great a killing bacteria and reducing inflammation, long-term use can cause tooth discoloration. In addition to antibiotics and prescription-strength mouthwashes, antipsychotics, antihistamines, and high blood pressure medication are also known to cause discoloration. Another contributor to intrinsic stains is fluoride. Of course, this is not to say that one should avoid fluoride, but it is worth noting that excessive amounts can lead to fluorosis, brown spots that develop beneath the tooth’s surface.
HOW TO WHITEN YELLOW TEETH NATURALLY
Having detailed some of the causes of tooth discoloration, as well as the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic stains, let’s turn our attention toward prevention and treatment. To avoid tooth discoloration, it is a good idea to avoid smoking and also the foods and drinks that contribute to the problem in the first place. To further reduce the likelihood of teeth yellowing, you should practice good oral hygiene and be seen by a dentist at least once a year.
1. HYDROGEN PEROXIDE AND BAKING SODA
The combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, when used as a paste, is almost comparable to professional whitening treatments in that it breaks up plaque and bacteria that can cause tooth stains. Most people who have used this hydrogen and peroxide to brighten their smiles noticed a significant improvement in as little as six weeks. The combination is so effective that many manufacturers have added it to several of their best-selling toothpaste brands. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide
- Mix the two ingredients until you formed a paste
- Brush for 2 to 3 minutes
As a side note, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda is also a great mouth wash. For best results, mix the same ratio of ingredients and rinse after brushing.
2. ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Activated charcoal is also great at removing stains, bacteria, and toxins that typically lead to yellow teeth. Activated charcoal can be found in most pharmacies and big-box stores. However, it may not work for everyone, especially those with sensitive tooth sensitivity as the charcoal may be too abrasive. Nonetheless, if you are interested in trying activated charcoal, here are a few helpful tips:
- Place a toothpaste-sized amount of activated charcoal on a toothbrush.
- Gently brush in a circular motion for a minimum of 2 minutes.
- While this is optional, consider mixing activated charcoal with water as the combination can be used as a mouth rinse.
Although activated charcoal is effective in whitening yellow teeth, the charcoal powder can become embedded in the small crevices and along the gum line. That said, make sure you rinse thoroughly your mouth with plain water after using this product.
3. APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple cider vinegar is also an effective way of resolving tooth discoloration. To whiten yellow teeth with apple cider vinegar, it is a good idea to use it as a mouth rinse before brushing. For best results, dilute 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in 5 ounces of water and vigorously swish the liquid in your mouth for 20 to 30 seconds. The reason why apple cider vinegar is so effective is that it contains natural bleaching agents that work to breakdown stains caused by coffee, wine, and tobacco products.
4. COCONUT OIL PULLING
Coconut oil pulling is an effective way to remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the oral cavity. It has also been shown to be effective in reducing gingivitis as well. For best results, swish 1 or 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in your mouth for a minimum of 10 minutes before brushing. For those who are not a fan of coconut oil, sesame oil and sunflower oil are just as effective.
5. CONSUME WATER-BASED FRUITS
Eating fruits that contain a high percentage of water like oranges, grapes, and watermelon, for example, can help wash away plaque, food particles, and bacteria that often lead to yellowing and other types of discoloration.
6. FRUIT PEELS
Although it may sound peculiar, fruit peels derived from lemons, oranges, or bananas can help brighten your smile. The peels from these fruits contain d-limonene, which is a compound used to treat a number of health problems like cancer and bronchitis, for example. However, fruit peels are also used to whiten discolored or yellow teeth. Similar to hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, many manufacturers have added d-limonene to many toothpaste brands. For best results, rub a fruit peel on your teeth for a minimum of 2 minutes. After you’re done, however, make sure to rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water as the acid from fruit peels can erode tooth enamel, which, in effect, resolves one problem and creates another one.
Similar to fruit, eating crunchy vegetables like celery and raw carrots can be a great way to remove plaque and bacteria build up that causes stains and discoloration.
8. OVER-THE-COUNTER WHITENING KITS
Over-the-counter whitening kits are a viable alternative to professional whitening done at your dentist office, and they are more cost-effective, averaging $10 to $50 for most kits. That said, over-the-counter whitening kits are available in gel, strips, trays, and toothpaste form.
9. PROPER BRUSHING
Brushing and flossing can help ensure your oral health and also prevent tooth discoloration. However, there is a right and wrong way to go about brushing. It is important to use circular motions as this minimize gum irritation and leads to a better overall clean. Lastly, you should brush at least twice per day for a minimum of two minutes.
10. SCHEDULE REGULAR DENTAL EXAMS
While age and lifestyle can play role in tooth discoloration, there are instances where such problems may signify a dental problem. The best to catch problems early and keep a bright, beautiful smile is by seeing your dentist at least once per year.
TOOTH DECAY AND DISCOLORATION
If plaque, bacteria, and tartar are not removed early, severe dental problems may develop. In fact, even small cavities can lead to big problems in that they allow food particles and bacteria into the tooth. All in all, it is a good idea to stay on top of your oral health. So if your teeth are discolored, you’re encouraged to schedule a visit with your dentist to at least rule out the presence of cavities. Also, if professional whitening is not an option, your dentist may be able to recommend veneers or other forms of restoration that can help you achieve a bright, beautiful smile.