Yellow teeth can detract from your appearance and make you look older than you are. The key to keeping teeth white is to avoid habits that stain and darken them. If that’s not possible, whitening products and procedures can help change your smile from dull to dazzling.
We all want a sparkling white smile, but time and what we eat and drink can leave us with dark or yellow teeth instead. This is because teeth absorb the colors of what comes into contact with them — especially red wine, cola, and coffee. Smoking also darkens teeth. And as we age, tooth enamel thins, letting the darker inner layer show through. The good news is that today there’s an array of dental products and procedures that can help restore yellow teeth to their original color.
Before you try to whiten your teeth, consult your dentist. Whitening products and procedures don’t work for everyone. They tend to work well on yellow teeth, but not as well on brownish stains, and may not do much at all for grayish stains. And because bonded teeth and tooth-colored fillings aren’t affected by whiteners, these can become more noticeable in a set of teeth that’s been whitened.
Professional Teeth Whitening
If you want your teeth to be as white as they can be, talk to your dentist about professional treatments, which use more highly concentrated peroxide than over-the-counter products. He or she may suggest whitening at the office or give you a treatment to use at home.
If you opt for in-office whitening, expect your dentist to first protect your gums with a special gel or a rubber shield, then apply a peroxide-based gel; he or she may also use a blue light to enhance the bleaching process. The procedure takes 30 to 60 minutes. Occasionally, your dentist may give you at-home whitening trays to lock in or enhance the whitening achieved in the office.
Some people report sensitive teeth or gum irritation after whitening treatments, but this is usually temporary.
Whitening Yellow Teeth at Home
If you want to whiten teeth that have darkened or yellowed, there are several options you can try yourself:
- Use a whitening toothpaste. The chemicals and abrasives in a whitening toothpaste remove more surface stains than regular toothpaste does; this gives teeth a brighter appearance, though it doesn’t change their color.
- Try an at-home whitening product. Gels and whitening strips that you apply to your teeth, trays that you fit on your teeth, or whitening rinses may give you the degree of whiteness you’re looking for. These contain peroxide, which bleaches tooth enamel, removing surface stains and those that are deeper. Gels, strips, and trays are typically used for two weeks, and the results last for about four months. Rinses take longer to be effective because they’re in your contact with your teeth for just a few minutes a day.
Keeping Teeth White
You can help keep your teeth white with basic oral hygiene. This means brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and getting your teeth checked and cleaned regularly by your dentist. If you smoke, quitting will help keep your teeth from becoming dingy. And avoiding foods and beverages that stain teeth can keep your smile brighter for longer.
Today, there’s no need to be embarrassed by yellow teeth. With proper oral care and at-home or professional teeth whitening options, you can reclaim your bright, sunny smile.