TOOTH COLOR : Why are my teeth yellow?


Tooth come in varying colors from Dark yellow to porcelain white. These variations may be due to different factors which may include genetics, medication, childhood illnesses, trauma, and a whole host of other possibilities. Enamel is a thin layer covering the crowns of our teeth. When this tiny layer (which is a few millimeters thick), when subjected to the types of food that we eat and all the abuse we put our tooth through, they are prone to microscopic changes.

Closeup of smile before and after teeth whitening

This brings out the colors we see based on their exposure to the oral elements and the type of food we eat in some cases. Foods that have color in them, wine, tobacco, coffee, tea, caramel etc, can have a superficial impact on the coloring of the teeth on a temporary basis. These are called extrinsic stains meaning  from  external sources. Most of the stains which are more adamant to change are the intrinsic stains, meaning from within the tooth. This may be as a result of blood clots which had formed as a result of tooth trauma, tetracycline stains, developmental defects that occur during the formation and anomalies that develop during the development of a tooth bud. Basically, the color of the teeth that we see is the color of the dentin that is lurking underneath the thin coat of enamel. As we age the color and density of the dentin becomes thicker and darker.

We live in a society which care more about looks than function. So our mind is conditioned so and the society is demanding whiter and whiter teeth. They also expect it to be done faster, cheaper and easier without less to no effort. This has brought about the World of tooth whitening products. We also have porcelain laminates or veneers as it is called. They are literally a millimeter thick porcelain that is cemented into place after shaving off a millimeter or so of tooth structure depending on the case.


Just like any product that is available in the market, there is the low end called : over the counter(OTC), the mid range and the high end. Each of them come in with a set of side effects. The most common is Tooth sensitivity. This may or may not be reversible. It’s not advisable to use tooth whitening products if your teeth are already sensitive as a result of hard brushing, gum recession, gum disease or the likes of it. So case selection is the key. Talk to your dentist on which type of product to use in your situation. Based on your dental health, you dentist may recommend the appropriate product for you. Laminates or veneers are sort of permanent due to the fact that our teeth is shaved down to create room for the veneer to be cemented in place. Nothing is permanent in this World, so the word permanent must be understood and used with caution. Remember, every procedure  that is performed in dentistry is mostly irreversible, meaning it cannot be bought back to its original state once it’s worked upon.

On a temporary basis, over the counter products could be used. The mid range and the high end products are much more concentrated, hence is much more powerful. As the concentration increases so does sensitivity. So be aware of it before jumping in to whiten your teeth. You need to make your own decisions that is right for you. A dentist can only give you his or her recommendation. One hour bleaching has gained much popularity and traction in recent years, so has the sensitivity associated with it. As a patient and a consumer, you will need to be well informed, ask questions and get educated on the procedures, know about the risks and the benefits before making an informed decision in getting any type of bleaching or tooth whitening done on your teeth. Cheap and easy products sold via TV channels are just that- cheap, maybe even unsafe. Since many of them may not have been tested or even regulated, the consumer need to be aware and approach it with caution.


So you should discuss with your Dentist before starting on any of the reputable products whether it is just OTC ( Over the counter) or powerful prescription products. They also may stain your clothes during its use, so use an appropriate barrier to protect the clothes that you are wearing. These may also irritate the skin or cause damage to your eyes. So eyeglass protection is highly recommended. Do not use these products if you are not well protected.

Some people prefer to leave their teeth untouched, some like to have it whitened a bit while some others want it to sparkle like white porcelain. Each of us have our own expectation of ourselves and others. So it is up to us to decide which category we may want to fall into. To make up our mind is the hardest part. The Rest is easy. Simply act on what you want to get done or maybe do nothing at all. In the end you need to be happy with what you got to help keep you smiling from ear to ear. That’s the whole point.



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