Shiny white teeth are the epitome of a flawless smile; that is what all the adverts say. People spend hundreds of rand on whitening toothpaste, strips and other products that promise shiny, stainless teeth.
There are also natural, chemical-free methods that people swear by; some of which sound too good to be true, but have yielded fine results.
There are many avenues to explore when it comes to getting that typical yellow tint off your chompers.
But first, what causes teeth discolouration?
Just everyday wear and tear is a factor in the yellow tint that most people will notice on their teeth. As we age, the white enamel on our teeth wears down. It becomes translucent and sometimes the calcified tissue underneath starts to show through. This yellow tissue is called dentin. If you strengthen and treat the enamel, the dentin will be masked once more.
Brush twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste, drink water treated with fluoride and see a doctor if you are experiencing dry mouth to help prevent your tooth enamel from thinning, says Lie Science. The colour of your teeth can also be affected by the food you eat. Sometimes the yellow tint is caused by staining from things like coffee, smoking and artificially coloured food.
Smoking discolours the teeth by leaving nicotine and tar deposits on the teeth.
Smoking will also lead to discolouration of the gums and tongue. Besides aesthetics, smokers are at a higher risk of many oral diseases and even throat and mouth cancer. Smokers will have yellow teeth that may also turn brown after excessive nicotine use.
Smoking tobacco causes a lack of oxygen in your bloodstream, which also prolongs healing in the mouth.
Smoking causes gum disease to progress faster than in non-smokers, NHS UK warns.
Poor hygiene is the most common reason for yellow discolouration. It is also the most straightforward issue to rectify. The yellow tint is usually from plaque when a patient doesn’t regularly brush or floss.
When plaque and tartar build-up on the enamel, they can make teeth appear yellow. Removing that build-up before decay sets in is critical to having a whiter smile and healthy teeth. This can be done with consistent brushing and bi-annual check-ups at the dentist. Getting a yearly, professional cleaning will keep your teeth plaque and stain free.
Having dental insurance to cover these costs can make it easy and affordable to maintain excellent oral hygiene.
Which other methods can fix it?
Baking soda isn’t just a cake-raising agent but also has cleaning properties. Baking soda is mixed with an acid such as lemon juice and vinegar to cut through grime – this method is used in many parts of the home like the kitchen for pots and pans. It also neutralises odours. It does the same when used in the mouth.
Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide. It will make a paste to be used the same as regular toothpaste. Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water afterwards. The same ratio works for mouthwash. Or you can try baking soda with water.
Malic acid is found in strawberries. This is a natural tooth whitening enzyme and removes the need for using harsh chemicals.
Even though it works well on its own, mashing up strawberries and mixing them with baking soda to make a paste is the best way to benefit from the cleaning properties of malic acid and baking soda combined. Also, the strawberry flavour makes it all the more pleasant.
Activated charcoal has long been a popular, pop culture remedy for yellow teeth. Its natural adhesive qualities allow it to bind with surface-staining culprits such as coffee, tea, wine and plaque, thereby removing the stains from your teeth, Affinity Dental explained in an earlier blog.
The odourless, tasteless powder has thus far been deemed safe, but certain charcoals may be too intense for teeth and will, in fact, stain them yellow.
Trust Dental says that potent substances can wear away enamel and expose dentin, the softer, yellowish layer of a tooth. What’s Good blogger Christina Heiser brushed her teeth with activated charcoal for two weeks, as an experiment to see what would happen to her teeth
and gums. “My teeth were noticeably whiter at the end of this two-week experiment than they were at the beginning — or even at the midpoint. While my chompers
didn’t have the look of peroxide-treated teeth, I was happy to test out a fairly easy DIY method that didn’t have a gross aftertaste,” she said.
Apples’ fibrous texture can stimulate your gums, reduce cavity-causing bacteria and increase saliva flow. Like other crisp, raw vegetables and fruits, apples can also gently remove plaque trapped between teeth: less plaque, less tartar, and less discolouration.
Apples have other health benefits too. Apples make your gums healthier, explains Summit Dental. An apple contains a whopping 15% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Vitamin C keeps you safe from colds and flu, and also keeps your gums healthy. Without vitamin C, your gums are vulnerable to infection, bleeding and gum disease. If you have periodontal disease, a lack of vitamin C will increase bleeding and swelling.
Apples are acidic though, so be sure to rinse with water after eating.
Eating cheese can strengthen the enamel and guard against the properties of acids and other agents that erode your teeth.
Eating cheese containing lactic acid is a natural way to protect against enamel erosion because cheese neutralises bad acids, stimulates the production of saliva and provides your body with tooth-strengthening calcium, phosphorous and protein, says Main Street Smiles.
Eating these cheeses after snacking can be beneficial. The cheese can counteract sugars and other potentially harmful ingredients.