yellow teethThe actors and actresses on television or in the movies always have such beautiful, white smiles. Many people look at them and feel embarrassed about their own yellow teeth. They wonder if this is their fault or if there’s something they can do about it. Why are teeth white, yellow, or even brown? There are a number of reasons for tooth discoloration.

Brown teeth can be caused by certain antibiotics taken during childhood. Chlorhexidine mouthwashes and some acne medications can also cause your teeth to brown. Fillings might discolor your teeth as well.

The most common types of discoloration result from eating and drinking foods or beverages that stain. These include wine, tea, coffee, colas, and foods with dark sauces can cause staining over time. These foods may contain chromogens which stick to the enamel of your teeth and stain them darker. The tannins in tea and wine actually assist chromogens to adhere better to enamel.

It’s also very possible that simple genetics are the cause. Some lucky people have a thicker or brighter enamel layer than others. Underneath the enamel is the dentin, a living tissue. This dentin is yellow and it becomes yellower as you age. If your enamel is thin to begin with or thins over time, your teeth will seem to grow yellower too. If this is the case, your best strategy is to take good care of the enamel you have – that is what is bleached with teeth whitening kits or in-office treatments.

We’ve talked before about teeth whitening options. There are many, and any appropriate course of action always involves determining what caused your teeth to darken in the first place. For people with tooth damage or sensitive teeth, whitening might not even be the best option. You would not want to damage the enamel that remains further. Instead, your dentist might recommend other cosmetic options like veneers or dental bonding.  

If you are concerned about your yellow teeth, do talk to your dentist at your next cleaning or other appointment. No matter what you decide, it’s always wise to keep your dentist apprised of any steps you’ve taken with your teeth so he or she will be aware of any effects to your overall oral health. There is a lot of information on the web about home remedies or different things you might do to remove stains from your teeth, but unless you understand why your teeth are discolored in the first place, these strategies will be ineffective and possibly even dangerous.

Don’t take chances with your teeth – they are the only ones you will ever have.