Whiter teeth – Naturally!
Having white teeth has become an increasingly important issue for many patients. Unfortunately our perception of normal, healthy, white teeth has been blurred by what we see in the media. The teeth of celebrities, models and others in the media are often not their natural teeth but porcelain veneers or caps that have been made in an ultra-white colour (let’s not also forget Photoshop!). Generally speaking, it is abnormal and unnatural for the colour of your teeth to be whiter than the whites of your eyes.
The colour of your teeth is affected by many factors including what you eat, how you take care of them, medical conditions and medication as well as age.
Unfortunately, with age, it’s true that your teeth will appear less white and more yellow. There are a few reasons for this:
- as you age your enamel becomes more translucent and
- the darker, inside of your teeth or ‘dentine’ becomes more obvious
- Also, teeth naturally wear down and the darker dentine looks yellower and it’s as though you have darker teeth.
Poor oral health can cause dark-looking teeth: tooth decay can look dark in spots; gum disease can cause ‘recession’ which means your teeth look longer because of exposed roots (exposed roots always look more dark than normal gumlines). “Tooth-brush abrasion” also makes teeth look longer and darker. Fillings and restorations on your front teeth can also discolour with time, particularly at the edges where stains can build up.
Many foods have the ability to stain teeth (eg. coffee and tea) and some people have “chromogenic bacteria” (bacteria that produce a dark-coloured residue) which can stain your teeth in various darker colours. One of the biggest dietary factors that darken teeth is caused by acid wear. Acid wear will prematurely wear down the enamel layer of teeth and cause the yellower inside of the teeth to shine through.
Conditions that cause vomiting such as pregnancy, reflux and bulimia can lead to severe acid wear of the teeth, this is due to the low pH of stomach acids. Not as common these days but we do see some cases of staining of the teeth due to the use of certain types of antibiotics in childhood.
Tips for achieving whiter teeth, naturally!
- Brush your teeth with a fluoridated toothpaste 2 times a day.
- Floss between your teeth each night.
- Avoid acidic beverages eg. citrus juices, wine, soft drink, energy drinks, sports drinks, flavoured mineral water. No lemon juice!!
- Don’t brush your teeth within an hour of consumption of acidic food/drink or vomiting. Instead, rinse with water or a bicarbonate mouthwash to neutral the pH quickly.
- Visit your dentist regularly to prevent damage to teeth due to decay/gum disease/poor brushing habits
It’s hard for most people to work out exactly why their teeth are discoloured; that’s where we can help. A simple review of your teeth, gums and home care may help you work out what’s going on with your teeth.
If you are unhappy with the colour of your teeth, please call Moss Vale Dental on 4869 3111 to make an appointment!