Have you ever wondered why you “say cheese” before taking a picture? The purpose of saying cheese is so that your teeth will be visible, giving the appearance of a smile.
Having bad dental hygiene can make it difficult for anyone to say something as simple as cheese or to smile.
Are you tired of keeping your lips tight shut in social circles? Or perhaps you know someone having some serious dental nightmare? Here are some dental hygiene tips to ensure that you always you maintain good healthy, white teeth.
Why do teeth yellow?
- Eating Foods with pigments that stain your teeth, including: Red wine, coffee, tea, Curries, Tomato sauces, Berries, Soy sauce, Balsamic vinegar
- There are other foods and drinks which, although they don’t cause staining themselves, contain acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. This reduces the ‘whiteness’ of your teeth and also leaves them more susceptible to staining. Watch out for:
o Citrus fruits and juices, Sports drinks, Sugary foods & beverages, Artificial sweeteners, White wine and many other alcoholic drinks, Fizzy/carbonated drinks
- Poor oral hygiene – If you notice a yellow buildup on your teeth, it’s probably plaque or tartar. Plaque forms when bacteria from food and drink particles aren’t cleaned properly from your teeth. Over time, plaque hardens to form tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.
o This yellow coating can form on or around your teeth if you don’t brush often enough or thoroughly enough. Not only does it look bad, it contributes to bad breath and a whole load of other oral health complications.
- Cigarettes – Smoking makes your teeth yellow because of the tar, nicotine and other chemicals carried in the smoke. These seep into the pores in your tooth enamel, staining its natural color.
o There are other oral health problems associated with smoking, too. For example, nicotine causes gums to recede and can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Receding gums also expose root surfaces, which is darker than the enamel of your teeth, causing your teeth to appear more yellow or brown.
- Genetic predisposition – Genetic variances can affect tooth color and enamel porosity – and more porous enamel is more liable to stain.
- Prescription medications – Some antibiotics such as tetracycline and amoxicillin can affect the color of teeth, especially in younger children. Drugs prescribed to adults for allergies and high blood pressure may also have this side effect. Speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about this. Certain illnesses, particularly those that affect the liver, can result in discolored teeth. Patients who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer may also find their teeth turning a brownish hue.
- Natural aging – This is because the protective enamel layer becomes thinner, revealing more of the yellow dentin underneath.
o Nourish your whole body. Good diet, restorative sleep, and managing stress will slow down the aging process of all the living tissues in your body, including dentin.
- Enamel defects –These usually occur when the enamel does not form properly during childhood
- Some Mouthwashes – Avoid stannous fluoride and cetylpyridinium chloride containing mouthrinse, as they may stain your teeth.
- Trauma from accidents – Have you ever seen someone with just one yellow tooth? Very often, a tooth that gets knocked hard during childhood ends up yellowing much faster than the other teeth, which stay white. That’s because the tooth that got hit is dying faster than the others.
- Grinding your teeth – As a tooth naturally ages, the inside living tissue shrinks. If you grind your teeth or clench, you’re putting your teeth under duress with strong vertical forces. A nighttime grinder can put as much as 250 pounds of force per square inch on teeth — enough to crack a walnut! These strong forces speed up this shrinkage and aging, eventually killing the tooth. A prematurely aging tooth is a yellow tooth.
o You can treat bruxism (clenching/grinding) by wearing a professional night guard to protect your teeth, ask your dental provider if this may be necessary for you.
Foods that help keep your teeth white:
- Firm, crisp foods such as apples, pears, raw carrots and celery, etc…
How to adequately remove stain from your teeth through daily oral hygiene:
- Change your tooth brush (or toothbrush head for electric toothbrushes) every 3-4 months or if the bristles become frayed before 3 months.
- Angle your toothbrush towards the gumline at a 45 degree angle and brush for 2 full minutes 2 times per day.
- Floss at least once per day, using a “C” shaped method, hugging the floss around each tooth and swiping up and down the side of each tooth.
o Helpful hint: when you brush your teeth and skip flossing, you are missing 40% of your tooth surface!
- Whitening toothpaste
o Some may say whitening toothpaste is too abrasive for your teeth. It will not damage the enamel but should be avoided long term with moderate to severe recession.
o Avoid brushing your teeth directly after eating sugary and/or citrus foods/drinks, wait at least 30 minutes as the enamel is softer during this time period.
Should I whiten my teeth?
- The most effective way to brighten your smile is with professional whitening.
- Over the counter whitening solutions can be effective, but some are more effective than others.
· Discontinue whitening products if they make your teeth sensitive. Ask your dental hygienist about whitening and ways to overcome sensitivity with whitening products.
Joey Robello, RDH & Tina Frazier, RDH