Even though the media glamorizes perfectly white teeth, it’s important to keep in mind that most teeth are naturally a yellowish shade of off-white and that they darken as they age. The color of your teeth is mostly determined by the state of the hard outer layer of enamel and the softer layer of yellowish dentin underneath it. Here’s what you should know about what the shade of your teeth says about you and your dental health.
What Colors Can Teeth Be?
Teeth come in several colors, including…
Baby teeth, or primary teeth, are the whitest because they are more calcified than adult teeth. This also results from the dentin in baby teeth being nearly white itself. It’s also worth remembering that small children have not had as much time to consume teeth-staining or enamel-eroding foods and beverages.
Light grey or light yellow
Permanent teeth are not as white as baby teeth. The dentin layer is much more yellow and takes up more space in adult teeth than baby teeth. As time goes on, the outer enamel layer will thin out and make the dentin layer more visible.
While teeth naturally darken with age, a yellow shade typically means that the teeth have been stained by food and drink. Common culprits of discoloration include tea, coffee, and red wine, which carry pigments that can bind with the enamel layer. A yellow color can also be caused by a buildup of plaque. If plaque is not removed regularly with proper oral hygiene practices, it can permanently stain the enamel.
Teeth usually become brown as a result of worsening yellow stains, but it can also be caused by age, injury, genetics, and certain medications. However, the most common cause of brown discoloration is smoking or chewing tobacco. In other cases, brown spots can be due to tooth decay.
How Can I Keep My Teeth Looking Great?
The best way to keep your smile beautiful is to practice excellent oral hygiene while seeing your dentist regularly. A proper dental hygiene routine includes brushing, flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwash, which will eliminate plaque, food debris, and bacteria that can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
If your teeth have stubborn stains that won’t yield to your hygiene practices, your dentist can provide you with a teeth whitening treatment in the form of an in-office procedure or a take-home kit. These treatments will deliver results far superior to those of any whitening product you can buy at the store and can whiten your teeth by up to ten shades. That will leave you with a flashy white smile you can be proud of.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis E. Stansbury earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas and continues to pursue advanced education courses. He is proud to be a member of the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry. His office in Tyler, TX offers preventive, restorative, emergency, and cosmetic dentistry such as teeth whitening treatments. To learn more about how to keep your teeth looking great, contact his office online or dial (903) 561-1122.