Do you have yellow teeth? Are you wondering why your teeth are yellow when you brush them every day? It’s natural to be conscious of your smile, but yellow or off-white teeth aren’t necessarily a sign of poor oral health.
There are many factors that contribute to tooth color. Some are within your control, but others are not.
Keep reading to find out the answers and solutions to the following:
- Why do teeth turn yellow?
- How to clean yellow teeth
- What causes yellow teeth in children?
- How to whiten stained teeth naturally
- What should your normal teeth color be?
- Yellow-stained teeth after braces
So find out what causes teeth to yellow, and how to turn your yellow teeth to white again. With so many different solutions to try, both natural and chemical, we hope you find one that works for you so you can get back to smiling with confidence.
Table of contents
- 1 Yellow teeth myths
- 2 So why are my teeth yellow?
- 3 How to get rid of yellow teeth
- 4 What to do if your kids have yellow teeth
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQs
- 6.1 What causes yellow teeth?
- 6.2 What are ways of whitening yellowed teeth naturally?
- 6.3 Can I have naturally yellow teeth?
- 6.4 What if my toddler has yellow teeth?
- 6.5 Why do I have yellow spots on my teeth?
- 6.6 Why won’t my teeth whiten even though I’m brushing?
- 6.7 Will I get yellow teeth after braces?
- 6.8 How do you whiten between teeth?
Yellow teeth myths
Many of the ideas people have about yellow and white teeth are not necessarily true. Have a look at the following teeth yellowing myths and see if any pertain to you:
Myth 1: Teeth are naturally bright white
A few lucky people may be blessed with pearly white teeth, but most people’s teeth are naturally a couple of shades darker. In fact, really bright white teeth can actually look quite unnatural. Natural teeth are usually tinged with yellow or grey.
To understand the reason why, let’s take a look at the anatomy of the tooth:
On the outside, we have a layer of enamel, which is a blueish-white color. But enamel is translucent, which allows the layer of dentin below to show through. Dentin is a darker yellow color, and this is what gives teeth an off-white appearance.
So, it’s really the shade and thickness of your tooth enamel which determines the color of your teeth. If you brush and floss every day but your teeth are still yellow, it may just be that they are naturally that shade.
Myth 2: Yellow teeth are unhealthy
This is a myth pushed on us by companies who want people to spend hundreds of dollars getting a “perfect” Hollywood smile.
Although yellow plaque deposits and heavy staining are not healthy, it’s quite possible for perfectly clean and healthy teeth to be a shade of yellow. Teeth whitening procedures often work by stripping or penetrating the outer layer of enamel, which weakens teeth if repeated numerous times. So in many cases, off-white teeth are stronger than bright white ones, as long as they are kept clean.
Of course, you may still want to improve the esthetic appearance of your smile by whitening your teeth, and we have some more information about that below.
Myth 3: You will get yellow teeth with braces
Some people do end up with stained teeth after braces, but it’s not necessarily the braces themselves that are to blame. Bacteria can easily build up around the brace brackets so it’s important to be extra careful with cleaning your teeth and flossing during this time. If you keep up a good oral hygiene routine, wearing braces doesn’t have to result in discolored teeth.
If you’re worried about fixed braces discoloring your teeth, you could consider a different style of braces. Lingual braces are fixed behind your teeth so any marks they leave are hidden inside your mouth. Alternatively, “invisible” braces are removable so you can clean your teeth as normal.
On a side note, if you wear metal braces with colored bands, did you know the color you choose can make your teeth look brighter or more yellow? Read more in our full article on colored braces.
So why are my teeth yellow?
So, your teeth are yellow.
The good news is, you are not alone in having teeth that are yellow or off-white, and it might not necessarily be a bad thing.
But why are your teeth yellow? Let’s look at the things that may be responsible for your teeth yellowing.
Tobacco stained teeth
Smoking makes your teeth yellow because of the tar, nicotine, and other chemicals carried in the smoke. These seep into the pores in your tooth enamel, staining its natural color.
A study conducted in 2005 found that 28% of smokers had moderate to severe levels of tooth discoloration, compared to 15% of non-smokers. The study also revealed that smokers were generally less satisfied with the state of their teeth.
E-cigarettes may not discolor teeth to the same degree, but they still contain nicotine which becomes yellow when it mixes with oxygen.
There are other oral health problems associated with smoking, too. For example, nicotine causes gums to recede and can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis.
Bad oral hygiene
If you notice a yellow buildup on your teeth, it’s probably plaque or tartar. Plaque forms when bacteria from food and drink particles aren’t cleaned properly from your teeth. Over time, plaque hardens to form tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist or hygienist.
This yellow coating can form on or around your teeth if you don’t brush often enough or thoroughly enough. Not only does it look bad, but it also contributes to bad breath and a whole load of other oral health complications.
It shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the things you put into your mouth have an effect on the color of your teeth. If your teeth aren’t white, you may be suffering from:
- Coffee-stained teeth
- Tea-stained teeth
- Red wine-stained teeth
- Curry stains
- Tomato sauce stains
- Berry stains
- Soy sauce stains
- Balsamic vinegar stains
- Beetroot stains
There are other foods and drinks which, although they don’t cause staining themselves, contain acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. This reduces the ‘whiteness’ of your teeth and also leaves them more susceptible to staining. Watch out for:
- Fizzy drinks (heavily colored ones can also cause stains)
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Sports drinks
- Sugary foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- White wine and many other alcoholic drinks
Rinsing your mouth with water after consuming these products will help minimize the damage from any acid.
Aging and yellow teeth
As if getting older weren’t bad enough, it’s natural for your teeth to become yellow as you age. This is because the protective enamel layer becomes thinner, revealing more of the yellow dentin underneath.
Genetics and yellow teeth
If you have had yellowish teeth all your life, your parents may be to blame. Genetic variances can affect tooth color and enamel porosity—and more porous enamel is more likely to stain.
Medication or illness
Some antibiotics such as amoxicillin and tetracycline can cause stained teeth, especially in younger children.
Drugs prescribed to adults for allergies and high blood pressure may also have this side effect. Speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about this.
Certain illnesses, particularly those that affect the liver, can result in discolored teeth. Patients who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer may also find their teeth turning a brownish hue.
How to get rid of yellow teeth
Wondering how to get rid of stained teeth? Turning your teeth from yellow to white is often easier said than done. However, if you’re wondering how to fix yellow teeth, or how to fix stained teeth, there are several approaches you can take depending on your budget, the results you want, and how quickly you want to see a difference.
How to clean yellow teeth
Want to help your yellow teeth become white? You should visit your dental hygienist every six months for a scale and polish unless your dentist recommends otherwise. Getting your teeth scaled involves removing any tartar build-up and then polishing the surfaces of your teeth with special instruments.
You might be surprised at how much brighter your teeth appear after this. But if you want more drastic results, you’ll need to look at your options for teeth whitening.
Before you do, you might want to watch this short video where a dental assistant explains the possible side effects of tooth bleaching:
How to whiten stained teeth naturally
Before turning to chemical whitening methods, you might want to know how to make teeth white naturally from their yellow condition. So why not try some natural ways to fix yellow stains on teeth? A quick online search will bring up all kinds of alternative techniques that people swear by, but here are some of the most popular:
- Activated charcoal
- Coconut oil pulling
- Baking soda
- Apple cider vinegar
Baking soda is one of the most tried and true natural ways to whiten teeth, and studies like this one from the ADA about how baking soda can be used for whitening teeth, back the science behind it.
Additionally, some whitening toothpastes include natural ingredients, like baking soda or charcoal, to help with whitening although the abrasiveness of these may cause sensitive teeth with prolonged use.
If you’re looking for a natural way to whiten your teeth, Active Wow’s charcoal powder comes highly recommended. It’s made in the USA from high-quality activated coconut charcoal. Rather than raw powder, it’s mixed with bentonite for remineralization and orange seed oil for anti-inflammation. The mint flavor is more appealing to some people than an unflavored product. Many users are surprised at the results they get from something that’s so affordable.
We have a full article on the benefits of activated charcoal for teeth whitening so check that out if you want to know more.
How to whiten yellow teeth with a home whitening kit
There are many affordable ways to whiten your teeth at home. You can buy strips, pens, bleaching trays, LED kits and more in your bid to brighten your smile.
Naturally, each of these methods varies in its cost, effectiveness, and ease of use. Generally speaking, home treatments won’t be as effective on badly yellow-stained teeth as professional treatments. However, they can still produce noticeable results.
For great value for money, you may want to try the Kav Plus home whitening kit. This kit comes with everything you need to whiten your yellow teeth at home, including an LED light and moldable mouth trays. When your gel runs out, it’s easy to buy refills whenever you need them.
Learn how to whiten yellow teeth using a home teeth whitening kit by checking out our full article on whitening kits to help you choose the right one for you.
How to whiten yellow teeth professionally
Probably the most effective way to make yellow teeth white is to visit your dentist for a course of professional whitening. Using lasers or LEDs with concentrated bleaching products, you can get results in a single visit. It won’t come as a surprise that these treatments are also the most expensive.
Want to know more about different whitening methods and how effective they are? We covered this topic in much more detail in our guide to teeth whitening.
Veneers for yellow teeth
If your teeth are not just discolored but also crooked or chipped, you may want to kill two birds with one stone by getting veneers. These thin covers are placed directly onto your existing teeth. They can be made to match your natural teeth if you just need one or two, or you can transform your smile with veneers across all your visible teeth.
How to clean stained teeth
Whether you have coffee-stained teeth or naturally yellow teeth, you can help prevent any further yellowing by taking good care of them. This means brushing your teeth properly twice a day and flossing at least daily. Use a fluoride toothpaste as this helps strengthen enamel. You can also use mouthwash, but don’t rinse immediately after brushing since this can wash the fluoride away.
And remember that list of foods and drinks that stain or damage teeth? Try to limit your consumption of these, or at least rinse your mouth with water after you have had them.
What to do if your kids have yellow teeth
Do you have a child or toddler with yellow teeth? Keep in mind that a child’s milk teeth are usually whiter than their permanent teeth. Don’t be alarmed if their first adult teeth seem quite yellow in comparison to the remaining baby teeth.
Whether your child has yellow baby teeth or yellow permanent teeth, discolored teeth in your child may be due to some of the same reasons as adults’ discolored teeth, i.e. diet, poor oral hygiene, genetic factors, medications, and illnesses.
Take the same precautions as you would for yourself; brush well twice a day and limit sugary snacks and other foods that may damage enamel. If you have trouble brushing your child’s teeth thoroughly, consider investing in an electric toothbrush which might make the task more enjoyable.
Also, take your child to the dentist for regular checkups so any dental problems can be addressed early on. If you are concerned about the shade of your child’s teeth, mention it to your dentist at your next visit. Avoid using any whitening products, even natural ones, on your child, unless your dentist recommends you do so.
What causes yellow teeth?
So, why do teeth turn yellow? Your teeth yellowing may be caused by a number of factors including:
Normally, teeth are naturally a bit yellow, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t clean and healthy.
What are ways of whitening yellowed teeth naturally?
If you’re wondering how to make teeth white naturally from yellow, there are a number of remedies available, such as:
- Activated charcoal
- Coconut oil pulling
- Baking soda
- Apple cider vinegar
To be safe, you should ask your dentist before using any of these to whiten your teeth, and ask them about proper technique as well.
Can I have naturally yellow teeth?
Are teeth naturally yellow? You may be relieved to know that it is normal for teeth to be a bit yellow. That’s because teeth are partly made of yellow dentin, which is covered by translucent enamel. Many people with great oral hygiene habits may still have teeth that aren’t totally white, because the yellow of the dentin is showing through the enamel.
What if my toddler has yellow teeth?
If your toddler or child has yellow baby teeth, this may be a sign that better oral hygiene is required. Baby teeth are normally whiter than adult teeth, and this is an important time to implement proper teeth cleaning habits.
Why do I have yellow spots on my teeth?
If you have spots or patches of discoloration on your teeth, it may be due to the following factors:
- Hypocalcification: When the tooth enamel is not fully formed, the affected tooth may be more sensitive.
- Fluorosis: Too much fluoride received during childhood.
- Demineralization: Calcium phosphate is the principal part of the mineral on teeth, and it may start to dissolve due to too much plaque. If this happens, you may experience some discoloration.
Why won’t my teeth whiten even though I’m brushing?
Sometimes brushing isn’t enough to turn yellow teeth to white. If you brush and floss your teeth twice a day, and your teeth are still yellow, it may just be the natural color of your teeth. Naturally yellow teeth is not a medical concern, rather it is simply cosmetic. If this is your case, and you really want whiter teeth, you may want to consider teeth whitening.
Will I get yellow teeth after braces?
Braces themselves will not discolor your teeth, but if you don’t clean properly around the brackets, you may get plaque buildup.
How do you whiten between teeth?
You can whiten between your teeth the same way you would whiten the fronts of your teeth: Maintain good oral hygiene and consider home whitening or professional whitening remedies.
BMC Public Health: Smoking and tooth discolouration: findings from a national cross-sectional study. Consulted 13 August 2019.
ADA.org: Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice. Consulted 13 August 2019.