In popular culture, the perfect smile is often associated with brilliant, ultra white teeth; we are often convinced that this is the way our teeth should be, despite the natural colour of teeth which varies from off-white to shades of yellow with grey undertones. A variety of factors determine the colour of your teeth, including age, heredity, oral hygiene, trauma, disease, pregnancy, vitamin deficiency, diet, consumption of tobacco, and other lifestyle factors. Further, discoloration of the teeth is nearly inevitable as these factors compound over time, but there are ways to slow this process and prevent excess staining. Keep reading to find out how you can keep your smile bright as you age!
The natural colour of teeth
Natural teeth aren’t bright white; while the outer enamel of the tooth can be anywhere from translucent to off-white depending on biological determinants, the inner dentin layer of all teeth is more yellow in colour. The yellow hue of the dentin shows through the enamel in most people, especially in those with naturally thin or translucent enamel. The enamel also thins with age, which is why teeth become discoloured with age.
3 Types of Dental Stains:
- Extrinsic staining is caused by the build-up of pigmented residues from food and drink on the surface of the tooth. These stains are the most preventable, as they occur mostly through diet and lifestyle choices.
- Intrinsic staining penetrates the enamel and occurs on the inside of the tooth. Because they involve the inner dentin layer, these stains are more difficult to treat. It is important that you always consult your dentist before undertaking a tooth-whitening regimen!
- Aged-related discoloration occurs regardless of oral care. The outer enamel naturally thins over time, allowing the yellow dentin layer beneath to show through which makes the teeth appear more yellow with age.
How to Prevent Extrinsic Tooth Stains
As with most oral health issues, prevention is easier than treatment! While extrinsic tooth stains are inevitable and treatable with regular dental cleanings or extra whitening treatments, you can slow the thinning of your enamel and prevent discoloration by adapting your food and drink habits:
- Limit consumption of food and drink with lots of tannins, acid, sugar, or pigmentation.
- Brush and floss daily
- Twice annual dental cleaning and fluoride treatments
- Protect your enamel from thinning! Beware of acid wear, over brushing, or anything else that might accelerate enamel thinning (which occurs naturally with age)
- Dietary calcium can strengthen the enamel and help prevent staining
- Pair your acidic beverage with dairy to create a natural barrier against tannin residues that stick to and stain teeth (wine and cheese anyone?)
- Avoid smoking and vaping products, including e-cigarettes
Foods and Drinks that Stain Teeth
To keep your pearly whites pearly, avoid (or enjoy in moderation) these teeth staining foods and drinks:
- Coffee and black tea
- Wine and other alcohol
- Soda and juice
- Citrus fruits
- Berries and pomegranate
- Artificial food colouring (such as found in popsicles, powdered drinks, candy)
- Soy Sauce
- Curry, saffron, turmeric
Teeth Whitening with BLOK Dental
When you have an understanding of what puts your teeth at risk for staining, you can make lifestyle choices to protect your beautiful teeth! If you’d like whiter teeth, book an online consultation or talk with your dentist at your next appointment! There are a lot of DIY-whitening products on the market, and not all of them are safe or effective—always consult with your dentist before undertaking any teeth whitening methods!