Yellow Teeth Stains: Causes + Best Treatment & Remedies

yellow teeth stains

Yellow teeth stains can actually cause an abnormal teeth color. This can cause poor smile by making some people feel very self-conscious about the looks of their teeth. Teeth discoloration usually happens slowly and it’s easy to overlook teeth going yellow. Moreover, it’s natural for people’s teeth to become less white as they grow older, so having yellow teeth isn’t a sign that something is seriously wrong.

However, having a clear understanding on why the color of your teeth is turning yellow can help you to prevent further discoloration and damages. Generally, the causes of tooth discoloration are divided into three different categories – extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related discoloration.

  • Extrinsic stains. Teeth enamel is the hard, outermost layer of teeth. When the enamel is not taking proper care of, it can easily wear down or discolor. Extrinsic stains usually occurs when the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) is stained. Coffee, wine, cola, chocolate and dark sauces are some of the common causes of this type of stains. Luckily, these stains can be easily removed or corrected.
  • Intrinsic stains. This stains occur within the inner structure of the tooth (the dentin). Unlike extrinsic stains, intrinsic stains occur in the inner part the tooth making it very difficult to be removed. A child’s teeth is likely to turn brownish yellow if the child takes the antibiotics tetracycline or doxycycline while his or her teeth are still developing (before the age of 8). Also, if your mother used tetracycline antibiotics during the second half of pregnancy, you can have yellow teeth stains.
  • Age-related stains. Naturally, the dentin is yellow in color and it’s found right below the enamel. As you get older, the outer layer of enamel thins over time, making teeth appear more yellow as it allows the dentin to show through. Some abrasive food, chips or other dental injuries can discolor a tooth, especially when the pulp has been destroyed.

Causes of yellow teeth stains

1. Tooth erosion. The dentin which is a yellow or brownish-colored material hidden right under the enamel, is one of the main reasons that teeth look yellow. Although our teeth enamel are strong, but they can wear away with long exposure to the acids in the foods and drinks you take. Check here to – learn more about tooth erosion.

2. Genetics. Many people fail to know that their genetic make-up plays a significant role in the brightness and thickness of their enamel. Some people are born with thicker, whiter enamel that can withstand erosion while others are not. There are times when yellow teeth just run in a family because of the nature of their enamel.

3. Medications. During adulthood, a number of medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs, and drugs used to manage high blood pressure. can cause intrinsic yellow teeth stains. In addition, children who are 8 years old or younger have tooth discoloration after taking certain antibiotics like tetracycline or doxycycline while their teeth are still developing. Sometimes, the use of mouthwashes that contains chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride can cause tooth stains in both adults and children.

4. Smoking and Tobacco use. The chemicals and nicotine in tobacco products can cause extrinsic yellowish stains on the surface of teeth. In mild cases, these type of stains are easily removed with proper cleaning. It’s is also very important to know that chewing or smoking tobacco can equally put you at a higher risk of gum disease and other oral health problems.

5. Foods and drinks. Many foods and drinks out there contains lots of teeth-staining pigments that can cling to your teeth enamel and stain them. Dark-colored foods and beverages, including red wine, colas, chocolate and dark sauces such as soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, spaghetti sauce and curries can actually lead to yellow teeth stains. In addition, some fruits and vegetables such as grapes, blueberries, cherries, beets and pomegranates have the potential to stain teeth. (1)

6. Fluorosis. Fluoride is beneficial to your oral health as it helps in strengthening the enamel and preventing decay. Well, too much of fluoride is not needed because it can cause a condition known as fluorosis which leaves the teeth brown or yellow.

7. Dental trauma. Accidents and physical dental trauma can crack off your tooth enamel and eventually lead to the discoloration of the affected tooth. This type of tooth discoloration can occur in both adults and children. But in most cases, it is most commonly seen in children especially when they are still learning how to work. On my previous post, I explained more on tooth discoloration after trauma. You can read the post here – treatments for tooth discoloration after trauma.

How to remove yellow teeth stains

To whiten your yellow teeth, there are so many treatment options available that you can choose from. There are whitening strip, gels, toothpastes, and rinses, that can get rid of yellow teeth forever. If the stains are intrinsic, your dentist can suggest whitening the stained teeth through root canal treatment or internal bleaching. However, if the stains are extrinsic, brushing your teeth properly everyday should be the first step in treating your yellow teeth. Ensure to brush and use the right mouthwash or toothpaste regularly to help reduce the buildup of plaque on your teeth. It’s important that you brush your teeth after consuming foods and drinks known to cause yellow teeth.

Brush and floss regularly every day especially after consuming – coffee, blueberries, beetroot and many other foods that can stain your teeth. Now, let’s look at some effective treatments and natural home remedies that you can use to remove yellow stains from teeth.

Treatments for yellow teeth stains

1. Whitening toothpaste. With consistent use, whitening toothpaste may help reduce yellowing of the teeth and improve whiteness. These special toothpastes contains stronger ingredients than standard toothpaste, making them effective in removing tough food stains from teeth. Whitening toothpaste does not always contain bleach but may contain a small amount of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These chemicals can help to remove yellow teeth stains and lighten teeth color.

2. Whitening strips. Whitening strips deliver a thin layer of peroxide gel on plastic strips. These are shaped to fit onto the surface of the teeth. There is a variety of whitening strip products available in the market today, some of their application instructions may vary. In most cases, whitening strips should be applied twice every day for 30 minutes at a time. These strips can remove yellow teeth stains and lighten the teeth by one or two shades.

3. Whitening rinses. The use of whitening rinses is another great way to get rid of yellow teeth. They contain oxygen sources such as hydrogen peroxide. These react with the compounds staining the teeth, helping to lift them. Using a rinse twice a day for 1 minute at a time can lead to a one to two shade improvement in tooth color within 3 months. (2)

4. Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. A 2012 study showed that people who used toothpastes that contained baking soda and peroxide removed stains from their teeth and left them whiter. Toothpastes that contains baking soda and hydrogen peroxide works well in removing tough stains, bacteria, and plaque from teeth. So, at home you can prepare such paste and use it to reduce yellowing of your teeth. You can make a paste at home by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide.

5. Activated charcoal. The use of toothpastes that contains activated charcoal may help to reduce external stains on the teeth surface and toxins from the mouth. However, more scientific research is needed to determine how good activated charcoal is at whitening teeth. A 2015 study showed that activated charcoal was often more abrasive than regular whitening toothpaste on dental acrylic resins. Activated charcoal toothpastes can remove yellow teeth stains, but they should be used with caution, as they can be abrasive around the gums.

6. Apple cider vinegar. When used in small quantities, apple cider vinegar may reduce staining on the teeth and improve whiteness. A 2014 study that was done on cows showed that apple cider vinegar has a whitening effect on the teeth. However, it should be noted that when apple cider vinegar is used too often on human teeth, it can bleach the teeth as well as damage the teeth structure. So, use it with caution and only for short amounts of time. Further human studies are needed to explore the effects on human teeth.

7. Coconut oil pulling. A 2015 study showed that the use of oil pulling is an effective way to whiten teeth because it helps to remove plaque that is causing the teeth to become yellow. So, coconut oil pulling removes plaque and bacteria from the mouth, which leaves the teeth whiter. To try this remedy, swish 1 or 2 teaspoons of liquid coconut oil in your mouth for between 10 and 30 minutes without letting the oil reach the back of your throat. Ensure not to swallow the oil after swishing because it will contain the bacteria and toxins from your mouth. Also, make sure you use only organic, high quality coconut oils that are free from harmful ingredients.

Bottom Line

The natural, permanent adult teeth tend to become slightly yellow or discolored as a person ages. Luckily, discoloration that is being caused by plaque buildup can be easily resolved with regular brushing and flossing. It is also important that you should avoid those foods that may stain your teeth.

The remedies above can help to lighten the appearance of your teeth. But in the meantime, try to avoid those foods and drinks that are causing the color of your teeth to turn yellow. Dental professionals always say that regular brushing plus the consumption of fruits and vegetables with high water content are able to keep the teeth healthy. You can get rid of extrinsic yellow teeth stains with some simple lifestyle changes which includes good oral hygiene, avoiding smoking and limiting the amount of tooth-staining foods and drinks you consume. On the other hand, the removal of Intrinsic stains is more difficult and usually require the attention of an experienced dentist.

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