Research published by the British Dental Journal shows that of people who are unhappy with their teeth, 64% cite discolouration as the reason. There are several causes of tooth discolouration – some of these are avoidable, such as poor dental hygiene, diet or smoking. Others are not, such as genetics, diseases, trauma or just wear and tear over time. It is important to remember that teeth are rarely bright white, so having yellowish teeth is perfectly normal.
However, if you’re unhappy with the appearance of your smile, there are various options available.
What’s the root cause?
Before embarking on a specific treatment option, it’s important for us to understand why the discolouration or yellowing has occurred, as this may signify an underlying problem. For example, if the yellowing appearance has occurred due to the hard enamel coating on your teeth thinning through wear, chipping, excessive tooth clenching or grinding, or from acid erosion by acidic foods and drinks in your diet (i.e. lemon water, fizzy drinks, excessive fruit or smoothies), then the teeth may be weakened or compromised. In these cases, some restorative treatment may be required.
We also need to understand whether the discolouration has occurred gradually over time, which could be due to habits like smoking, staining due to drinking lots of coffee or tea, foods that stain and general wear and tear. Or whether it has come on more quickly, in which case it could point to a problem that should be investigated by the dentist.
The discolouration could also be confined to a single tooth, due to a previous root filling or a tooth where the nerve has died.
Once we’ve diagnosed the reason(s) why your teeth are discoloured or yellow, we will discuss your end goal. Everybody’s smile is personal to them, so by sharing your expectations with your dentist, they will be able to tailor a treatment plan to help you achieve your desired look.
Deciding the right treatment options
In the first instance, there may be steps that you can take at home to brighten your smile. If the discolouration is due to habits, for example smoking or drinking coffee or red wine, we will advise you stop and have your teeth professionally cleaned by our dental hygienist.
If the discolouration is minimal, we might recommend polishing to deep clean the teeth and remove any staining. Tooth whitening is a good option if we need to brighten the smile by a couple of shades and is very simple.
If the teeth show signs of damage, they might need restorative treatment. Here we would consider composite bonding to rebuild the tooth or teeth, or in more severe cases porcelain veneers or onlays may be required.
After your treatment
Following your treatment, it’s important to establish a good dental routine to maintain your smile and prevent the issues recurring wherever possible. This includes:
- Brushing correctly for two minutes, twice a day
- Using mouthwashes, dental floss and/or interdental brushes
- Regular visits to your dentist and dental hygienist
Tooth discolouration can be treated, so if you’re not 100% happy with your smile, book a consultation with us to see what treatment options would work best for you.