Teeth don't have to be gleaming white to be healthy, but yellow teeth can sometimes be a sign of poor oral hygiene or other dental issues such as tooth erosion. Fortunately, they don't always have to stay that way.
If you want to restore lost whiteness to your smile, the best person to talk to is your dentist. They can discuss the treatments they offer as well as let you know if you have an underlying dental problem that needs to be treated first.
Why do teeth turn yellow?
When you know what causes tooth stains and discolouration, you can take steps to avoid it and prevent your teeth from getting darker or help a whitening treatment to last longer.
Common reasons for yellow teeth include:
- genetics and natural ageing
- food and drink high in tannins or acid, such as wines, soft drinks and coffee
- poor oral hygiene allowing plaque to build up
- exposure to too much fluoride, especially in childhood
- certain medical problems and medications, including some asthma and blood pressure medications and chemotherapy treatment
Ways to whiten teeth
Your dentist will recommend treatments based on the type of stains or tooth discolouration you have. These could include:
- Teeth cleaning and polishing
- Professional teeth whitening
- Home teeth whitening
- Dental veneers
Teeth cleaning and polishing
Your first step to a whiter smile should be an appointment with a dental hygienist. They can remove plaque and calculus from your teeth to remove some discolouration and lower your oral health risks, followed by professional cleaning and polishing to help brighten tooth surfaces.
Professional teeth whitening
If you desire more whitening, in-chair teeth whitening at a dental clinic uses a whitening gel applied to teeth and activated by a UV light or laser.
Professional whitening can lighten teeth by several shades and can sometimes be completed in a single visit, as dentists are qualified to use higher concentrations of whitening agents than are available for home use.
Home teeth whitening
There are many products available over the counter that claim to whiten teeth – including whitening toothpastes, strips and gels – but results can vary.
Dentists can provide home whitening kits with custom trays designed to fit perfectly over your teeth, ensuring more even coverage from whitening gel and lowering the risk of contact with the gums. As home treatments use a lower concentration of whitening gel, results can take several weeks with regular use.
Not all types of tooth discolouration can be treated by teeth whitening, and these treatments eventually fade and need to be repeated to maintain a white smile. An alternative can be porcelain or composite veneers, which replace the front surface of teeth.
Veneers can last for many years, as long as they're well cared for, but they will need to be replaced eventually. Depending on the condition of your teeth and what you want to achieve, a thin layer of tooth enamel may need to be removed before veneers can be placed.
Cosmetic dentist in Auckland
For more information about cosmetic treatments to whiten yellow teeth and cover up stains, book a consultation with our dentists at St Heliers Dental Centre. Call (09) 575 5814 or book online to find out how you could change your smile.