Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve begun to pay attention to the aesthetics of your teeth as you get older. When I was young, I would eat whatever food I desired, drank fizzy soda and gorged on sweets.

While it’s OK to treat yourself to these snacks now and again, they can cause discoloration and damage to the internal and external layers of your teeth. If you’ve noticed that your teeth have become a slight shade of yellow, here’s what you need to know.

Your Teeth Have Pores

In the same way that our skin has small openings that allow sweat and moisture to pass into our system, our teeth have small, intricate porous structures on the surface that we cannot see with our naked eye.

After eating certain food items, these pores become clogged and filled with the filaments of the food you just consumed. Although this is a natural process, excessive exposure to these particles can cause your teeth to turn yellow or brown. While all foods have the potential to turn your teeth a yellowish hue, here are the food items that cause the most damage:

  • Soda and fruit juices
  • Coffee
  • Wine
  • Tomato-based foods and drinks
  • Soy sauce
  • Curry
  • Vinegar
  • Beets

Make a consistent effort to brush and thoroughly clean your teeth if you know you will be consuming any of these food items. While it may seem like a mild inconvenience, it will keep your teeth white and radiant.

Lifestyle Habits

Along with our dietary choices come habits that may cause damage to the surface of our teeth. Harmful practices can deteriorate the outermost layer of the teeth — enamel — and create stains, discoloration, chipping and uneven texture.

While I won’t preach to you why these habits are harmful, I can only express the detrimental side effects of these practices on your smile. If you partake in any of these activities regularly, reconsider them and find ways to eliminate the habit:

  • Smoking and vaping
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Drinking regularly
  • Using drugs
  • Abusing stimulants
  • Chewing fingernails
  • Grinding teeth

All of these practices can influence the texture and color of your teeth. If you’ve noticed a yellowish hue arise along the surface of your teeth, it’s time to reconsider your daily habits.

Similarly, certain medications and pharmacy-bought items can cause your teeth to become yellow over time. Specific products such as Benadryl, mouthwashes with chlorhexidine and anti-anxiety medications have become notorious with yellow teeth. If you rely on these medications daily for various medical issues, consult with your doctor for a dental-conscious alternative.

Bleaching and Brushing

While it may sound odd that brushing and bleaching can lead to yellow teeth, too much of a good thing can lead to negative consequences. Whenever I began my pursuit for healthy and pearly-white teeth, I rushed to the store and bought every over-the-counter bleaching product I could find.

While my initial results were impressive, I noticed diminishing returns as I began to abuse bleaching kits. Bleaching, in a general sense, weakens our enamel and causes our teeth to become susceptible to stains and discoloration.

Since I was bleaching multiple times per weak, my teeth were soaking up food particles and dyes more than ever before. After a brief period, my teeth were back to their initial yellow color.

In conjunction with this, there is a small subsection of the population that aggressively brushes their teeth every night. Before we go any further, I need to address something: Consistently brushing your teeth is one of the cornerstones of a healthy smile. With that said, placing too much pressure on your gum line and teeth can cause their surface to discolor.

Kimberly Harms, a dentist who practices out of Farmington, MN, claims that most people brush incorrectly and use inadequate tools in their dental routine. “You need to find a brush that covers the entire surface of the tooth and slightly under the gums,” Harms exclaims.

The next time you find yourself in the bathroom, use gentle and circular motions while moving across each of your teeth. If you notice swelling, bleeding, or redness occurring on your gumline, lessen the pressure and move slowly.

Practice Makes Perfect

I understand that maintaining a healthy smile may seem overwhelming, but small steps practiced daily will help you reach the finish line. While I don’t proclaim to be a dental expert or work in the field, you can’t go wrong with these habits:

  • Reduce your consumption of harmful foods, such as sugary snacks and fizzy drinks.
  • Analyze what habits may be causing your teeth to become yellow and try to eliminate them from your life.
  • When using the assistance of bleaching kits or strips, use them sparingly and with the supervision of your dentist.
  • After you begin brushing your teeth, use gentle pressure and never cause bleeding or swelling to occur.
  • Always keep water with you and never let yourself become dehydrated. Dry mouth can cause harmful bacteria to grow in your mouth, causing yellow teeth as a result.

I implemented these practices into my daily regimen, and my teeth became significantly whiter over time. Small, incremental changes were the catalyst for the radiant smile that I have today, and you can experience the same results, too! Try these tips and strategies out for yourself and see what kind of effects you can achieve in the upcoming months.

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