Why are my teeth dark or yellow? and what can I do about it?
There are three reasons why your teeth look stained or are a yellow colour.
- The first is to do with the external stains on the surface of the teeth. These build-up from the foods and things that we drink and eat. Good examples of foods that stain are coffee, tea, red wine and spicey foods. Smoking in any form will create a film of tar over the teeth. Some people build-up stains on their teeth due to substances in their saliva produced by their body.
The good news about these stains are that they are easily removed at your regular cleaning appointment with your dentist or hygienist. We do not recommend the use of smokers toothpastes as they are very abrasive and when used regularly will lead to a loss of enamel
2.The second reason is to do with the thickness of enamel on your teeth. Enamel is the very hard outer layer of the tooth which has a white glassy appearance. The more enamel you have the whiter your teeth will look. You cannot increase the thickness of your enamel but you can preserve it by avoiding acid producing drinks (soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks and sugary drinks), & other abrasive/erosive factors(eg overexuberant scrubbing in particular areas).
Erosive drinks should be kept to a minimum and especially not drunk in-between meals. People that suffer from gastric reflux or voluntary or involuntary vomiting will also find that enamel will be dissolved from the surface of their teeth. Porcelain veneers can replace this lost enamel and change and improve the shape of your teeth, this technique performed by your dentist can recreate a beautiful smile which has the same glassy white appearance as natural teeth.
3.The third reason for teeth looking yellower or darker is the internal colour of the teeth. The substance under the enamel is called dentine and it can range in colour fron pale yellow to dark grey/brown. This colour shines through the enamel and determines the colour that people see when you smile.
It is this colour that we change when we bleach teeth. The bleach penetrates the layer of the enamel (without changing or damaging it) and chemically lightens the dentine. When the bleach is in contact with the teeth for right amount of time (using correctly constructed bleaching trays) and the bleach is the correct concentration then bleaching is very effective and safe. Unfortunately toothpastes do not contain the active ingredient in great enough concentrations and most of the paste is swallowed or washed away from the tooth surface making the bleaching ineffective. Paint on over the counter whitening agents to date have had little effect for the same reason. We have found the whitening strips to be moderately successful in porous teeth although the appearance can be non uniform due to their method of application.
The good news about bleaching is that it is a long term change .
Bleaching can be done in the dental surgery for those that find overnight bleaching with trays inconvenient but we have found that it is more expensive for the patient and most will end up using the home bleaching as well. We provide refill syringes for home bleaching, please see Nite White refills. The side effects of bleaching are limited but most people will experience an increase in sensitivity while bleaching. For more information please see our instructions for home bleaching or ask your dentist or hygienist.