Our smile is one of the first things people notice, and in that sense, who doesn't want a white, bright smile?
We often view our teeth simply as a means to chew — but the truth is, these enamel-coated structures are highly complex. Although you may practice optimal oral hygiene, there are still certain foods and habits that can cause significant discolouration.
When you look in the mirror, are you happy with the teeth that are smiling back at you?
On that note, if you knew that the following habits were contributing to the stains on your teeth, would you make changes to your regular routine? It's important to be aware of certain factors that cause yellowing and stains, so that you can take appropriate action. Here's what you should know.
3 Habits That Are Causing Tooth Discolouration
Before we dive into possible contributing factors, it's important to mention the types of stains that you can develop. Meaning, depending on the root cause of your stains, the treatment will likely differ. To summarize, here are the three main types:
- Intrinsic — This occurs when the tissue under your enamel becomes stained. Since these stains originate from inside your teeth, they require key active ingredients to remove these deep stains. This can occur from too much fluoride as a child, some sort of trauma, or even a high exposure to antibiotics.
- Extrinsic — This refers to stains on the outside of your enamel, which are the easiest to remove. From wine to curry, your enamel will absorb pigments over time. Since these are 'surface' stains, they can be combatted with regular brushing and an at-home whitening kit.
- Age-related — With age, as your enamel thins and your dentin darkens, natural discolouration becomes more apparent. This will likely be a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic stains.
With that in mind, let's focus on what you may be doing in your everyday life that contributes to these pesky stains — and more importantly, what can be done about it.
No surprise here, as tobacco is a leading cause of tooth discolouration. There are all kinds of nasty chemicals and toxins in cigarettes, including tar and nicotine. These two culprits result in the yellowing and browning of teeth. Once inhaled, the chemicals in smoke find their way into your enamel.
More often than not, these stains are extrinsic, and can be removed through good oral hygiene and a tooth whitening regimen. On that note, tobacco stains tend to be more stubborn than other surface stains, taking longer to remove than most food or drink stains. It's best to invest in effective teeth whitening trays to get this job done. You'll also need to be patient and consistent.
From wine to coffee, tea to cola, beverages most certainly contribute to staining. With so many individuals enjoying a morning coffee or tea, these are often some of the biggest culprits. Like smoke, coffee and other beverages find their way into the microscopic 'pits' on the surface of your enamel. Once embedded, stains result — and if action is not taken, these stains can become permanent.
We all have to eat — but there are certainly some foods that are more prone to staining than others. Not only can food such as berries and pasta sauce stain your teeth, but other foods can also cause damage to your enamel — including citrus fruits. Of course, many of these foods are good for your health, so what do you do?
When eating foods that are known to stain, it's important that you brush your teeth. Nothing beats optimal oral hygiene, so be sure to keep up on a healthy routine. If you do not have your toothbrush, say at work, eat a small piece of cheese or chew on some sugar-free gum. Then, invest in a whitening kit to combat pre-existing stains.
At the end of the day, nothing is better than preventative measures. Once staining does occur, however, no need to panic. The sooner you take action, the better. Look for a home whitening kit that does not contain peroxide, and is easy to apply. Before you know it, you'll be flashing that bright, white smile all around town :)