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Why Are Your Teeth Yellow?

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Why Are Your Teeth Yellow?

Why Are Your Teeth Yellow?
September 24
17:26 2018

When you were a kid, did you hate washing your hands and face, combing or brushing your hair, taking a bath and brushing your teeth? Not to sound sexist, but your answers to this largely depends upon your gender.

Girls tend to be neater and cleaner than boys and readily keep themselves clean and tidy. Boys, however, seemed to wear dirt as some kind of badge of honor. I recall a time as a boy when my brothers, some friends and I, got into a mud fight. When we got home, we were proud of ourselves and how we prevailed over the others. They were totally covered in mud while we were just generally dirty. Mom didn’t share our pride and ordered us to immediately take a bath.

For reasons unknown, brushing teeth was the least favorite thing to do for many boys and some girls. Consequently, as we’ve grown older, our teeth are not the pearly whites we wish they were. Depending on the person, teeth range from a light whitish yellow to darker yellow and even some with nasty looking brown teeth.

We all know that lack of brushing lets teeth turn yellow, but what is it that really causes our smiles to be constrained and hidden?

To begin with, tooth stains are broken down into two categories – extrinsic (outer – stains on the exposed enamel) and intrinsic (inner – stains of inner tooth – the dentin layer).

Naturally, extrinsic stains are easier to remove, but intrinsic stains can easily become permanent. The top extrinsic stain causer is tobacco, smoking or chewing. Second are drinks like coffee and some teas.

Other things that can cause a staining of the outer enamel is dark colored foods and drinks. If something can stain your clothing, it can stain your teeth. What kind of dark colored foods?

“As a rule of thumb, any food or drink that can stain clothes can also stain your teeth. So, that’s why dark-colored foods and beverages, including red wine, colas, chocolate and dark sauces — such as soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, spaghetti sauce and curries — can discolor teeth. In addition, some fruits and vegetables — such as grapes, blueberries, cherries, beets and pomegranates — have the potential to stain teeth. These items are high in chromogens, pigment-producing substances that can stick to tooth enamel. Popsicles and candies are other foods likely to stain teeth.”

“Acidic foods and beverages can promote staining by eroding tooth enamel and making it easier for pigments to latch onto the teeth. Tannin, a bitter compound found in wine and tea, also helps chromogens attach to tooth enamel, which ultimately causes staining. But there’s good news for tea drinkers: A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that adding milk to tea reduces its chances of staining teeth because the proteins in milk can bind to tannin.”

Additionally, liquid forms of iron supplements given to young children can cause their teeth to stain.

As for intrinsic stains, you may be surprised at some of the culprits:

“Numerous medications can cause intrinsic stains on teeth. If children take the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline while their teeth are still developing (before the age of 8), their teeth may turn brownish-yellow. Women who take tetracycline after the fourth month of pregnancy or while breast-feeding, can cause a child to have discolored baby teeth, according to the Mayo Clinic.”

“During adulthood, using prescription-strength mouthwash containing chlorhexidine, a compound that can reduce bacteria and treat gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), can cause brown discolorations on teeth. In addition, the acne-fighting drug minocycline, a derivative of tetracycline, stains teeth.”

“Undergoing chemotherapy treatments as well as radiation to the head and neck can result in intrinsic stains. Even some relatively common drugs, such as antihistamines, antipsychotics and blood pressure medications can sometimes yellow teeth.”

All of those factors aside, other things like aging, genetics, illnesses and injuries, also contribute to yellow teeth.

The best prevention against extrinsic stains is to brush regularly and watch what we eat or drink. Check out any medication or supplement you take. It’s also recommended to have your teeth cleaned by a professional on a regular basis.

And smile!


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