There are many misconceptions people often have about the color of another person’s teeth. Most people assume that if you have yellow or discolored teeth, that you must not brush them properly or have poor dental hygiene in general. While dental hygiene can affect the color of your teeth, it is not always the main cause of tooth discoloration. There is a huge correlation between tooth enamel and your tooth color.
Your tooth enamel is the hard covering of your teeth, the health and thickness of which contributes directly to the color shade visible on the tooth. This enamel helps protect the inside of your teeth from exposure to the outside world. It helps keep your pulp, nerves, and gums away from bacteria and plaque.
While your tooth’s enamel is one of your body’s main lines of defense, it can become damaged if it is not properly cared for. As your enamel gets destroyed there is no guaranteed way to repair it. Therefore, once the enamel is gone, it is essentially gone for good. If your enamel gets damaged, it exposes the inside of your teeth to plaque and this can then cause cavities and eventually lead to tooth decay. When the enamel gets eroded, it exposes the inner yellow portion of your teeth. Therefore, the less enamel you have, the more discolored your teeth may appear.
Another main reason for a change in tooth color is due to staining of your teeth’s enamel. The enamel is a semi-translucent color when you are born. As we expose our teeth to certain foods and drinks, the enamel itself can become stained. The main things that cause our teeth to stain are coffee, alcohol, sugary foods and drinks, red wine, and acidic food and drinks. These things can all stain our teeth and change them from being white to off white and yellow, grey, or brown.
As a person ages they are often exposing themselves to more and more of these harsh foods and drinks. As noted before, this causes discoloration and will become more prominent as you age. During the aging process, the enamel on your teeth tends to erode due to just general environmental factors. It is a natural part of the aging process and there is very little that you can do about it. When the enamel erodes it exposes the yellow colored pulp on the inner part of your tooth, making it appear more yellowed to an observer. This is one of the main reasons why older people will not have bright white teeth, like many younger people do.
While many people believe that everyone is born with perfectly white teeth, this is not the case. Genetics have a lot to do with your tooth enamel and the overall color of your teeth. Typically, the thicker your enamel is, the brighter white your teeth will look. There are some families and bloodlines that have a whiter smile due to a thicker enamel. This gene runs in families and has helped some people maintain a bright white smile for longer than others.
If you want to have a brighter smile, you need to make sure that you are taking good care of your teeth’s enamel first and foremost. If you scratch the enamel or let plaque sit on the enamel for too long, it will lead to cavities. These cavities will eat away at the enamel and speed the change to the coloring of your teeth. Taking precautionary steps is the best way to ensure whiter teeth.
It is essential that you brush your teeth regularly, floss each morning and/or night, and regularly schedule appointments with your dentist. Proper dental hygiene is one of the best ways to ensure proper oral health, and the brighter smile that goes along with it. In addition, you should watch the foods and drinks you consume. Try eating healthy foods that will promote oral health and avoid dark colored drinks and acidic foods that can eat away at your teeth or stain the enamel.
If you are looking to whiten your teeth, you will need to watch carefully over your enamel strength and density. Traditional whitening methods, like whitening toothpaste, whitening strips or professional services, can help remove the surface stains from your teeth but often at a trade-off. This can help you get a whiter smile, but it may cause increased sensitivity to hot/cold, etc.
While stains can be removed from enamel, discoloration due to decaying teeth and cavities is irreversible. If the enamel at your teeth is eaten away and eroded due to plaque build up, there will be no way to get a brighter smile. This is why it is critical to take care of the enamel you have now. Prevention, in this case, is definitely the best medicine!