Why do teeth change color? Our teeth can stain and darken over time for many reasons. In many instances, yellowing of the teeth comes with age, staining of the enamel, and the accumulation of plaque on the teeth due to poor dental hygiene. Whatever the cause, most people prefer whiter teeth as they as a sign of health and youth.
Yellowing of teeth is due to many factors. It is different for each individual. For some, it might start with one or two teeth while, for others, it might be more pronounced. The entire tooth may not discolor in the traditional sense, either.
Some teeth may exhibit spotting, pitting, or streaks of white or yellow. Luckily, the initial yellowing of teeth does not generally cause pain or discomfort. What it can cause is a person being self conscious and trying to hide their smile. There are certain factors involved with the changes in tooth color.
- –Staining. Also referred to as yellowing. The enamel of the teeth yellow or darken due to staining from coffee, red wine, soda, tobacco, and other foods and drink.
- – Thin and discolored enamel. Sometimes, thin enamel is genetic, or discolored because of issues during tooth development. Over exposure to high amounts of minerals in water or tetracycline use during tooth development as a child can cause gray or mottled looking teeth. Fevers during tooth development can also cause malformed enamel. For others with stronger enamel, wear can happen over time, from trauma and use. This wear can be caused by aggressive brushing, physical trauma such as grinding and clenching, high exposure to acids from foods or health issues. As the enamel thins out over time, the dentin on the inside of the tooth will begin to show through. This thinner enamel will also allow more uptake of stain deeper into the teeth. The yellow color will be more prominent due to the thin enamel layer on the outside.
- –Age. As we get older yellowing of teeth is quite normal. From wear and use our enamel layer will become thinner thus allowing more of the underlying tooth structure to show thru.
How To Treat Yellowing Teeth?
- –Teeth Whitening. Teeth whitening products and treatments are able to whiten our teeth by removing stains and discolorations. Across the globe, teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure. It works best when teeth are stained from foods, beverages, and smoking. The results for malformed enamel can vary in effectiveness, and sometimes look worse. There are two main types of teeth whitening: in office treatment and at home treatment. In office whitening involves application of whitening products to the teeth while in the dental office. Results up to several shades lighter are achieved the same day. The process is fast, and easy. At home procedures involve application of whitening products to the teeth by the patient daily, for approximately 1 week to 1 month. The at home process is slower to achieve results, generally less expensive, and usually easy. Both cosmetic dentistry whitening procedures are very effective, and can help you to achieve the whiter smile you have been dreaming of. Any type of whitening can cause sensitivity, which is usually short term.
- –Porcelain Veneers. Porcelain veneers are a great option for teeth that will not whiten the way you would like. Mottled enamel, and tetracycline stained teeth do not evenly whiten, some of us have see through or translucent which do not whiten well either. Porcelain veneers give the cosmetic dentist the ability to change the color of teeth, keeping them natural looking and have low incidence of staining when taken care of properly. Porcelain veneers are custom made ultra thin porcelain restorations that are bonded to the front surfaces of the teeth. Modern porcelain veneers offer a natural looking, beautiful smile. Porcelain veneers generally last between 8 to 12 years, but if cared for properly can last for much longer . The lifespan of porcelain veneers (and any dental restoration) depends upon your oral hygiene maintenance, the forces on the teeth(hard use, grinding), tooth decay, and maintaining regular dental visits.
- –Porcelain Crowns. Porcelain crowns give the cosmetic dentist the ability to restore a tooth to its natural look without the use of metal. This allows the dental laboratory to fabricate a tooth that reflects light just like our own natural teeth. Porcelain crowns can be used on teeth that either already have crowns or need more extensive work. Teeth with large, deep, silver fillings, root canals, or extensive tooth decay generally have deep staining which needs to be covered with a crown to restore strength and beauty.
- –Dental Bonding. Dental bonding is the process in which tooth colored dental materials are bonded to a tooth. This might be one of the easiest cosmetic dentistry procedures to change our look. Using dental bonding we can change color, shape, size, and close any spaces that might be present. Dental bonding is generally completed in the dentist office in as little as an hour. This is especially useful when treating damaged, thin, or malformed enamel.
Yellowing teeth does not have to be an issue. Protect your smile by limiting acidic and highly staining foods. See your dentist to help you stop grinding and clenching habits. See your hygienist to have your cleaned teeth regularly. Maintain good oral hygiene, without being overly aggressive. If you already have deep staining or damaged enamel, see your dentist to see which options will work best for you. You can achieve the bright white smile you desire with a little help from your dentist!