Having perfect, pearly white teeth has become a symbol of good oral hygiene across all adult age groups and has created a rise in demand for laser teeth whitening treatments, DIY whitening kits, veneers, and other treatment plans. But, with so many ways of whitening yellow teeth available on the market, and varying degrees of success depending on your chosen method and budget, could whitening your teeth plaster over a range of more damaging dental health issues?
In this article, we’re considering the success rate of lifestyle changes and of teeth whitening as a means of transforming the look of your teeth, while balancing this with the potential problems of concealing oral hygiene concerns.
What causes yellow teeth?
Yellowing and discolouration of the teeth is, first and foremost, a fairly common sign of ageing. It can start to appear earlier than adulthood in some cases, owing to the connection between teeth colour and genetics – however, for the most part, it is a sign of wear and tear that requires careful management.
This is because, as we age, the enamel which coats and protects our teeth starts to wear thin – exposing the underlying layer of a component called dentin. This dentin is naturally a yellow/brown colour and, as the enamel wears away, will start to show through and give your teeth a yellow hue.
And it’s not all natural. The exposure of this dentin is often mixed in with lasting stains from food, coffee, and some lifestyle choices, such as smoking – depending on the individual and their approach to both oral hygiene and health.
In short, yellowing teeth can be considered a natural process that many of us are exposed to, which is exacerbated by certain choices and habits. Which is why oral hygiene, and an effective cleaning routine, is so important.
The impact of oral hygiene on the colour of your teeth
Oral hygiene is unarguably the most important thing that you can maintain, not only for the colour and aesthetic look of your teeth but for the underlying health of your teeth, gums, and mouth.
Without proper brushing, flossing, and regular trips to the dentist and dental hygienist, teeth can start to take on a darker hue as ageing and worn enamel combines with the lack of effective stain removal.
It’s this cause of yellow teeth, linked with poor oral hygiene, which is the most concerning for dentists. This is because, when you fail to floss and brush properly, not only will your teeth become discoloured, but plaque will start to build up and your teeth will decay – inducing a plethora of other issues.
Methods to help whiten yellow teeth
Depending on what you search for on Google, there are a multitude of at-home remedies for yellow teeth, and DIY solutions that can help your teeth to look whiter and brighter. But how effective are they?
As is often the case, some are more effective than others. For example, oil pulling is one such remedy, which derives from India, and involves swilling oil around the mouth to remove bacteria and plaque, which otherwise builds up to present yellow teeth. Brushing your teeth with baking soda is another at-home remedy for yellowing teeth, which has been known to help scrub away surface stains. Baking soda is included in the ingredients list of some known toothpastes, hinting at the efficiency of the solution – though it is important to note that the results are not instant and will take time to show.
Then we have the whitening methods which centre on lifestyle and habits – namely eating a healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables, and avoiding substances which exacerbate yellow teeth, such as smoking and overconsumption of coffee. Using targeted whitening products, such as tooth strips and special formulas, is one of the most popular methods for consumers, though it is important to recognise that these products tend to promise a lot and deliver very little in the way of lasting results.
Finally, to the professional methods of teeth whitening – and it’s here that technology and the innovations from within the dental sphere really come into play.
The benefits of professional teeth whitening
When you seek out the services of a dentist to conduct a teeth whitening treatment, you benefit from access to leading technology and the latest techniques.
Laser teeth whitening is one of the most effective methods, which not only delivers optimum results but ensures that they will last the test of time. This form of teeth whitening involves a session that is broken into a series of cycles, exposing the teeth to a Blue Spectrum LED light in a controlled environment.
Another professional treatment which can help to facilitate whiter teeth is a session with your dental hygienist – something that everyone should be indulging in at least a couple of times a year. The dental hygienist’s job is to help to remove signs of yellowing around the gaps between your teeth, and to tackle more stubborn stains on the surface of the teeth – as well as provide advice and guidance on minimising future stains and yellowing. Booking a regular slot with your dental hygienist is a good way of preventing future yellowing as well as getting rid of existing stains.
Things to consider before booking a teeth whitening treatment
The first thing to note here is that, while there are methods available for teeth whitening, and many of them are or can be incredibly effective if used correctly over time, they do not combat any underlying issues, plaque, or signs of decay. Thus, teeth whitening can certainly elevate and enhance the aesthetic of your teeth, but it should not be used as a replacement for proper oral hygiene and treatment for more serious dental concerns.
The other consideration is the stark difference between DIY and professional teeth whitening methods. While professional methods are undoubtedly more expensive, they are both safer and more effective than home and DIY options – with the effects of the whitening lasting much longer.
If you’re seeking pearly white teeth but are unsure about the best whitening methods and options available to you, get in touch with your local dental hygienist or professional dentist.