Yellow teeth is a common problem, causing millions to hide their smiles.
Whether intrinsic or extrinsic stains, tooth discoloration can cause tremendous insecurity in most people. 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 impact the tooth’s inner structure.
While there are exceptions, tooth discoloration does not always indicate a dental problem. You also need to know that there are grades of teeth whiteness, and yellow teeth are not necessarily bad. 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 home.
As noted in the preface of this article, stains that impact one’s tooth enamel are extrinsic. 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, 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. These can bond to the enamel and cause discoloration. Also, some fruits and vegetables are naturally very acidic and can erode tooth enamel, making it easier for teeth to become stained.
Intrinsic stains are more substantial than extrinsic ones because 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 result from certain medications, such as antibiotics. Intrinsic stains are usually brown or yellow and primarily affect the anterior teeth. These stains can also come from prescription-strength mouthwashes like chlorhexidine gluconate. While it dramatically kills bacteria and reduces 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 and 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
When used as a paste, the combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda 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 their best-selling toothpaste brands. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Combine one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide
- Mix the two ingredients until you have formed a paste
- Brush for 2 to 3 minutes
As a side note, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda also make excellent daily mouthwash. 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. You can find activated charcoal 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 embed in the small crevices and in the gum line. That said, ensure you rinse your mouth thoroughly 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 break down stains caused by coffee, wine, and tobacco products.
4. COCONUT OIL PULLING
Coconut oil pulling effectively removes 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 ten 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
For example, eating fruits with a high percentage of water, like oranges, grapes, and watermelon, can help. Fruit can wash away plaque, food particles, and bacteria that often lead to yellowing and other 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 several health problems like cancer and bronchitis, for example. However, fruit peels are also used to whiten discolored or yellow teeth. Like 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 two minutes. After you’re done, however, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water. That’s because the acid from fruit peels can erode tooth enamel, which, in effect, resolves one problem and creates another.
Like 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’s office, and they are more cost-effective, averaging $10 to $50 for most kits. You will find over-the-counter whitening kits available in gel, strips, trays, and toothpaste form.
9. PROPER BRUSHING
Brushing and flossing can help ensure oral health and prevent tooth discoloration. However, there is a right and wrong way to go about brushing. It is important to use circular motions as this minimizes gum irritation and leads to a better overall cleaning. Lastly, it would be best to brush at least twice daily for a minimum of two minutes.
10. SCHEDULE REGULAR DENTAL EXAMS
While age and lifestyle can play a 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.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON 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.