Do you ever wonder why your teeth turn yellow over time? The fact is that everyone’s teeth start to turn a little yellow with age, but there are other factors in play as well. Teeth can either develop stains on the surface (the enamel) or from deep within the tooth. Although the outer enamel layer of a tooth is relatively white, the dentin layer that lies just underneath the enamel is actually a pale brown color. If the enamel becomes thin (as it does for almost every adult over time), more of the dentin begins to show through. That causes teeth to look yellow. Of course, there are other common ways that teeth become stained. Here are some of the most common reasons why teeth turn yellow:
- Tobacco products – Whether you chew it or smoke it, tobacco stains your teeth. In fact, even if you avoid virtually all other stain-causing foods and drinks, but still use tobacco, your teeth will turn yellow. Smoking and chewing tobacco is not only bad for your oral health, but bad for your overall health as well. Remember that chewing tobacco is one of the leading causes of oral cancer.
- Coffee and tea – Most of us enjoy a little liquid caffeine in the morning, and that typically comes in the form of either coffee or tea. Unfortunately, both of these beverages can stain teeth badly.
- Dry mouth – A lot of people suffer from chronic dry mouth. This could be caused by a variety of reasons, from medication to sinus congestion and other health issues. Whatever the reason, breathing through your mouth reduces saliva flow, which makes it hard to keep the surface of your teeth moisturized, which in turn causes yellowing.
- Certain foods – Some foods are especially effective at staining your teeth. Those include foods like beets, tomato sauce and blueberries, to name a few. Of course, we can’t avoid these foods altogether, but we should aim for a healthy diet overall. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with lean protein. And try to avoid sugary foods and drinks. Eating a healthy diet is the best way to maintain good overall health – including good oral health. And the healthier your teeth and gums are, the easier it will be to keep them clean.
- Antibiotics – Recent studies have shown that one of the side effects of regular use of antibiotics is stained teeth.
- Excessive fluoride – While it’s true that fluoride is good for your teeth, too much of it can actually cause teeth to turn yellow or even light brown in color.
The best way to keep your teeth from turning yellow is to keep them healthy. And that means brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and visiting your dentist on a regular basis for professional cleanings and oral exams. If you’d like a brighter smile, ask your dentist for information about professional whitening products.