A bright smile is widely considered one of the most attractive physical features a person can have. In fact, when the dating site Match.com polled over 5,000 men and women, they learned that a beautiful smile was considered the most important physical attribute in a partner. If you’ve noticed that your own smile is looking a little dim and grim lately, you may be wondering where things are going wrong. Experts say that besides common culprits like poor oral hygiene, there are several more surprising reasons that you might not have those pearly whites. Read on to hear from dentists about what causes yellow teeth.
What Causes Yellow Teeth
Forgetting to drink water
Drinking water can help rinse away food and beverage particles that can potentially stain the teeth if they linger too long. That’s why Nicole Mackie, DDS, MS, FACP, founder of Dr. Nicole Mackie Dental Implant Specialty Center, suggests “sipping water between bites and drinking a full glass after eating.”
However, it’s important to note that water is the only beverage you should use for this purpose. “Our teeth do take notice when we drink anything other than water,” Mackie points out. “This is especially true with soda, energy drinks, and alcohol—all of which are packed with sugar and acid that can soften the teeth’s enamel. This weakening of the protective enamel leaves teeth vulnerable to yellowing and staining.”
Smoking has long been linked with yellow teeth, so that should come as no surprise. However, many people are shocked to learn that vaping has a similar effect on your smile.
“I’ve had many patients who believe that since vaping isn’t exactly smoking, it doesn’t lead to teeth staining. This is a myth!” shares Mackie. “The chemicals that make up the juice in e-cigarettes and vapes stain the teeth yellow or brown. To that end, vaping can also cause dry mouth, which can make it more difficult to fight off cavities.”
Brushing or flossing too infrequently is an obvious recipe for disaster. However, few people realize that brushing too often can also cause the teeth to turn yellow.
“I have treated many patients who believe ‘the harder you brush, the cleaner your teeth,'” says Mackie, refuting the notion. “The harder you brush, the more you can damage the teeth, enamel, and gums, leading to long-term dental issues, including yellowing. The same goes for brushing too often, as this can also wear away the teeth’s natural enamel and cause the teeth to appear dull and yellow.”
Mackie recommends brushing two to three times daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush with light pressure, in accordance with guidelines from the American Dental Association.
Forgetting to brush the tongue
There’s another way that your oral hygiene habits could be making your teeth yellow: forgetting to brush your tongue.
“Many patients believe that brushing is just about the teeth. This completely leaves out the gums, the roof of the mouth, and the tongue,” says Mackie. “The tongue can hold on to bad bacteria, causing the teeth to yellow. I recommend using a good tongue scraper as part of your oral hygiene routine.”
Not replacing your toothbrush
There are some instances in which poor oral hygiene is the result of poor tools. Mackie says you may find yourself in this situation if you forget to replace your toothbrush regularly enough.
“It is recommended that toothbrushes be replaced every three months because, after consistent use, the bristles become ineffective. This means the toothbrush can’t effectively brush away bacteria and food particles to clean the teeth,” she tells Best Life.