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Have you ever looked in the mirror and felt bad about the color of your teeth because they might be yellower than you’d like? Many of us have gone through the same thing. Because the yellowing of teeth happens gradually, it can be easy to become complacent. Luckily, yellow teeth are not an indication of a serious medical problem. That doesn’t go to say that it’s not disheartening and affects the confidence to realise that you don’t have the brightest or whitest smile, especially in today’s selfie-obsessed world. Read on to find out what causes yellowing of the teeth, and how you can avoid or limit exposure to those things.

Reasons why teeth turn yellow

Research indicates that advancing age is a natural factor in the discoloration process of the teeth. Many times genetic factors and family history also contribute to this condition. As a person starts to age, the tooth starts to lay down more dentin, thus reducing the pulp which in turn diminishes the translucent effect of the teeth, giving off a more yellow shade.

Enamel Thinning

As the enamel layer of the teeth starts wearing down and thinning itself due to chewing, the yellow dentin is exposed making the teeth look yellower. Dentin is a deep, yellow to brown, tinged material inside our teeth under the enamel. It is the primary cause for teeth appearing yellow. Color changes occur when the enamel starts scraping off and more of the dentin reveals itself.

Faulty Diet

Sauces, dark curries and black coffee are big culprits which tend to stain the teeth if used excessively and regularly, since they contain chemicals known as tannins, which are famous for their blemishing properties. Their residue tends to stick on the teeth surface, tarnishing the enamel. Soda and fizzy drinks are also big contributors to discoloration of teeth. These items create stains on the teeth surface.

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Nicotine is not only a bad addiction, but the tar from smoking is pretty damaging to oral hygiene- even leading to gum diseases and mouth cancers in cases. Chewing tobacco also falls under this category. Heavy smokers often complain of ending up with ugly brownish/yellowish teeth, a bad odor and crippled teeth.

The most apparent effect of smoking is the discoloration of the teeth, often leading to social embarrassment. People spend lavish amounts later on whitening treatment, but the best treatment is to quit smoking.


Many people adopt the habit of grinding teeth as a stress release method. Some do it unconsciously while asleep. This habit, also known as bruxism, is damaging to the tooth enamel thus weakening it and leading to brittle and yellow teeth.

Certain Diseases and Medications

Research indicates that few diseases directly affect the enamel and dentin in the mouth. Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation end up with discolored teeth due to the chemical reactions occuring in the body. In addition, particular antibiotic medications like tetracycline and doxycycline can also stain teeth.

Many times people use strong mouth washes which contain ingredients like chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride which are said to erode the teeth enamel causing discoloration. Often dentists use some dental materials like silver sulfide which imprints a gray-black color onto the teeth.

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Some helpful remedies to get rid of the problem

While having yellow teeth can make you shy away from smiling in public, it is possible to prevent or treat this issue with a little effort. Let’s take a look at some of the remedies.

Brushing and Flossing

This is the most vital dental mantra anyone can follow to prevent the problem altogether. Whenever plaque and tartar are deposited on teeth as a result of poor brushing habits, they start to appear yellow. So regular brushing is the best antidote for plaque deposits in the mouth.

Regular dental check-ups also help in keeping oral hygiene under check, and your dentist can identify the problem as soon as it buds or before it turns into a more complex issue.

Whitening toothpastes

There are certain whitening toothpastes available in the market which contain natural bleaching properties. These generally contain stronger ingredients than conventional toothpastes and help phase out stubborn teeth stains to an extent. They comprise of chemicals like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide which aid in lightening tooth color. However, these may also carry some disadvantages.

Whitening gels and strips

These are more economical and available over the counter too. They are known for their lightening wonders, and deposit a thin film of peroxide gel onto the plastic strips. They usually come in shapes that fit snugly onto the teeth surface. The results are swift and typically seen in few days and can last up to few months. They lighten the teeth by one or two shades.

Limit sugary and high-carb foods

If you are looking for a long term solution, it’s wise to limit or cut sugary foods, fizzy drinks and high-carb foods as they disturb the tooth enamel. High citrus or acidic fruits tend to wear down the enamel and activate tooth decay and staining real fast.

General home remedies

Nature has gifted us with numerous natural and herbal remedies found in our environment. Among such natural remedies is baking soda and hydrogen peroxide which have natural whitening properties in them. A paste made up of these two and applying it onto teeth removes the plaque deposits and cleans stains. While this generally considered to be safe, it’s best to consult your dentist before doing this.

What foods and drinks can stain your teeth?

Bright colored foods like blueberries can stain your teeth, while drinks like coffee, tea, and even carbonated soda can stain teeth due to their bold colours.

Can teeth staining be prevented?

Yes, by somewhat avoiding bright colored foods and drinks, and adopting a good oral hygiene routine we can avoid tooth discoloration.

Get plenty of calcium

Calcium is like a lifeline for teeth and will prevent enamel erosion. Its regular use will strengthen the enamel and gum lining. Milk, dairy products and broccoli are loaded with calcium.

To conclude, everyone envies a wide smile with white sparkling pearlies lined up beautifully. It gives off a confident aura to others. So yes, while yellow teeth can be distressing, it is possible to prevent discoloration by actively committing to taking care of oral hygiene and following other remedies.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.

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