Why do teeth become yellow or stained?
A relatively large part of the population (approximately 18-20%) has complained at one point or another about yellow or stained teeth. While the best way to fight yellowing teeth is prevention, once they have become stained, it can be increasingly difficult to return them to their natural white condition without professional help.
There are a variety of reasons why teeth might become yellowed, stained or discolored, and while drinking coffee in excess, as well as smoking and the use of certain medications, are the main culprits, the problem might also arise due to a more functional reason, which is thin tooth enamel. Be it because of genetics, aging, or any number of other reasons, those people who have thinner enamel on their teeth show a marked tendency to have yellowish teeth, whereas those with a thicker enamel coat tend to have whiter teeth.
Enamel tends to wear away with age, as is expected, but a number of foods can also cause it to erode. Acidic foods, beverages and treats, such as soda, candy, oranges, and others, cause the erosion of enamel over time. In most cases, saliva will wash away the excess acid, but in those who have to deal with dry mouths, the problem can become exacerbated.
What can be done about yellow or stained teeth?
The first, and most adequate way to go about whitening your teeth, is to consult a dental health professional. After an evaluation of the problem, the dentist will provide several different options so as to choose the most effective one for your specific case. Even so, there are a number of ways to whiten teeth at home, some of which require very little work and rely mostly on prevention, rather than specific action.
Such is the case of brushing and flossing consistently. Brushing your teeth does not only keep cavities at bay, it also helps maintain the teeth’s natural whiteness because it cleans away any acidic residue left behind by food. By removing the acid, you can prevent the erosion of your teeth’s enamel coating, thus preventing yellowing.
Staying away from coffee, soda, cigarettes, will not only improve your overall health, but it will also stop your teeth from becoming stained and yellowed. If you do smoke or drink coffee, your best option for maintaining your pearly whites is to have your teeth cleaned by a dentist every three months.
Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are a great way to keep your teeth looking healthy and white, as they are the perfect combination for the removal of bacteria and other infectious agents that may damage the enamel of your teeth. If you want to whiten your teeth, you can mix a small amount of both ingredients to form a paste you can use to scrub your teeth after brushing. But keep in mind that baking soda is gritty, so if you don’t use enough hydrogen peroxide you can cause more harm than good.
Activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar are also good ways to whiten your teeth at home, but you have to remember that consistency is the key, and as opposed to visiting a professional, they will not show results at the first try, so be patient and continue until you start achieving a whiter smile.