Why are my teeth yellow? Teeth discolouration

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Teeth discolouration is one of the most common complaints patients have. Luckily, it is often easy to fix! Options to improve the aesthetics include professional cleaning, teeth whitening or dental veneers.

To find out which one is most suitable for you, your dentist will have to identify the reason behind your stained teeth first. Below are some common causes for teeth discoloration:

Surface Stains from Daily Routine

The most common stains are from your everyday routines such as drinking coffee, tea and wine, as well as smoking cigarettes. These stains are quite noticeable, usually black or yellow in colour, but they can be effectively removed with regular dental clean. A professional teeth whitening treatment can often make a big difference for patients with surface stains only!

Staining from Iron Supplements

Your teeth can have a greenish appearance if you take iron supplements. This stain can usually be removed easily with a professional dental hygiene treatment. You may wish to take iron supplements through a straw to minimise the staining between your dental visits.

Antibiotics Staining

Permanent marks can form from the use of tetracycline class antibiotics at a young age, especially when the crown of the adult teeth is forming inside the child’s jaw bone at between age 2-6 years old. Not only is this an aesthetic issue but the staining also makes the teeth more brittle and susceptible to cracks and chipping. This type of stain doesn’t usually respond to teeth whitening treatment, but they can be covered with veneers in 1 or 2 visits.

Excessive Fluoride 

Another reason behind tooth discolouration is excessive exposure to fluoride during the formation of permanent teeth. This usually happens when children are using adult strength toothpaste too early. Kids tend to swallow tooth paste as they brush their teeth therefore, under the age of 2, toothpaste with no fluoride content is recommended. Between the age of 2 and 6, a children’s toothpaste with low fluoride content is advisable as it will help strengthen baby teeth and prevent decay while the risk of fluorosis is minimal.

White/Brown Spot Lesion

Lesions appear as white or yellowish spots that follow the curvature of the gum line. They can also appear after orthodontic brackets are removed if oral hygiene was not maintained meticulously during the orthodontic treatment. Lesions like this represent initial decay and reduced mineral content at that particular spot.

Shadow Underneath Enamel

This can indicate decay is actively hollowing out the softer dentine layer underneath the enamel and can be the next stage of decay after the spot lesions (above).

Post-Trauma Discolouration

This can happen after impact to the tooth, even when the tooth appears intact. The nerve and blood vessels inside the tooth are injured and it is imperative to see your dentist as soon as possible to explore treatment options.

See your dentist if you are experiencing any of the above, or any changes to your teeth or gums. Many stains can be easily removed by a dentist or hygienist. Your clinician will also remove the build-up of calculus which must be removed regularly to guard against gum disease, but other treatment options such as teeth whitening may be offered to you after your dentist properly assesses and diagnoses your situation. The chances are that your smile can be improved if you are unhappy with it!