Do you find yourself wishing your teeth were whiter?

In movies, social media posts, and the smiles of those around you, you see teeth as white as pearls. It can make you feel self-conscious about the brightness of your smile.

As you get older, you start to wonder: Should I whiten my teeth?

The success of your teeth whitening treatment will depend on why your teeth are stained in the first place. Is it due to drinking coffee/tea, smoking, or genetics? Or could it be because your enamel is worn away, exposing the darker dentin underneath? 

Let’s back up for a minute: What is dentin?

To answer that, we need to dive into the different layers of your teeth and how your lifestyle affects their colour. How can you whiten your teeth? And what causes discolouration in the first place?

We’re covering all that below:

Are Teeth Supposed To Be Yellow?

If your teeth are yellow, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have poor oral health. It could be due to your genetics. But more often than not, yellow teeth are caused by years of consuming foods and drinks that stain your enamel.

Why does your smile look yellow? The main things that stain your teeth include:

  • Smoking. The nicotine and tobacco in cigarettes will stain your teeth. Your tooth enamel is porous, and it absorbs the nicotine, eventually turning it yellow or brown. 
  • Drinking teeth-staining beverages. Coffee and tea might be an essential part of your morning routine, but they’re also one of the biggest culprits behind stained teeth. 
  • Poor brushing habits. Plaque eats away at your enamel, eroding the whiter outer layer of your tooth and exposing the yellower layer of dentin beneath it. By brushing your teeth twice a day, you’ll keep plaque at bay and maintain the brightness of your smile. 

What Is the Natural Colour of Teeth?

Very few of us are born with perfectly white teeth! 

Aside from your lifestyle choices, your genetics also play a role in the whiteness of your teeth. 

The dentin in your tooth is naturally yellow. It lies below the enamel. And if your tooth enamel is more translucent, that yellow colour will come through. Alternatively, your enamel may be light grey due to your genetics. 

Sure, there are many things that affect the colour of your teeth. But sometimes, people are born with teeth that aren’t pearly white. Luckily, there are ways to change that. 

Enamel Overview

Your teeth are made up of many layers. The outermost part is called the enamel; that’s the hard outer shell that protects the structure of your tooth. Its main function is to shield your teeth from acids and bacteria. Tooth enamel is even stronger than bone

Even so, it can wear down after years of chewing, poor dental hygiene, grinding,  or an unhealthy diet. Enamel is white or light grey, but it is susceptible to staining. If it breaks down, it doesn’t regrow. 

Dentin Overview

Below the enamel lies the dentin, the next layer of your tooth. Its job is pretty similar: It protects the inside of your tooth, including the pulp. 

Dentin is made of calcified tissue. While it’s still incredibly strong, it’s not as strong as enamel. Dentin is naturally more yellow than tooth enamel. 

Stained Enamel

It’s very common to notice that over time, your teeth don’t look as white as they used to. Your enamel darkens with age. This is called extrinsic discolouration; it’s when the outer layer of your tooth gets stained.

Discoloured Dentin

As your enamel wears away, it reveals more and more of the dentin that’s underneath. As we mentioned earlier, dentin is darker than enamel. And it can be further stained by the foods and drinks you consume. 

It’s very difficult to treat discoloured dentin or intrinsic discolouration with teeth whitening products. Those products are only designed to bleach the enamel. If you want to reach deeper layers of the tooth, such as the dentin, you’ll need help from a professional. 

How the Whitening Process Works

So, how does your dentist lift years of extrinsic staining from your teeth?

At Dental House, we go about it in two ways:

One is our in-office whitening procedure. We’ll start by applying a protective gel over your gums. After that, we’ll use whitening gel on your teeth and formulate it to treat your specific concerns. We activate it with a special light. Once we remove the gel, we’ll assess your teeth and determine if more treatments are needed.

You can also opt for a take-home whitening kit. We create custom trays designed to fit your teeth. Then, you spread the whitening gel on the trays and apply them to your teeth. 

Get Whiter Teeth Today

Even if you can’t whiten your dentin, there are still other options for you. We also offer dental veneers, where we will cover the front of each tooth with a white porcelain shell. It’s a way to conceal stained, crooked, or misshapen teeth.

Ready to transform your smile? Give us a call, and we’ll set up an appointment for teeth whitening or to discuss our cosmetic dentistry services. Contact Dental House today!