You’re probably familiar with the term “pearly whites”; though it may not be clear who coined this term, or where it was first used, “pearly whites” certainly insinuates that your teeth should be glossy and bright. For a lot of patients, however, their natural tooth color may not be as glossy or white as they desire. If you feel like your teeth appear yellow or dull, cosmetic teeth whitening solutions from Dr. Abbey Lee at Smiles 4 Grant Park can help alter their appearance safely and quickly. But today, let’s take a closer look at the natural state of your teeth, and the reasons why teeth can naturally develop a yellowed appearance.
Teeth are made of several parts. The outermost layers of tooth are formed of enamel, the hardest substance in the human body. (Enamel is actually as hard as steel, though it’s formed from calcium-based crystals, which make it much more brittle.) The natural color of enamel depends a lot on your genetics; it can be anywhere from light yellow to a blue-white. At the very edges of teeth, you can often observe the enamel’s natural color, as it is not altered by other underlying layers of tooth.
Underneath enamel lies a layer of dentin, a hard tissue that is less brittle than enamel, though highly sensitive. It protects the vulnerable pulp of a tooth (where nerve endings and blood vessels reside) and its natural color is much more yellow than that of enamel.
While a yellowed tooth or teeth may not be aesthetically beautiful in a smile, it is fortunately not harmful; it’s actually quite a natural state. Teeth dull or develop a more yellowed appearance as we age. This is because as the enamel surface of teeth wears with age, the dentin layer moves closer to the outer surface. As a result, the thinner, translucent layers of enamel display more of the natural color of dentin. The result is a decidedly more “yellow” appearance.
However, certain lifestyle behaviors and environmental factors can expedite the yellowing process. This is because teeth can soak up stains much like other porous substances. Anything that comes in contact with your teeth can potentially affect the color of them. Smoking, consuming richly-colored foods and drinks such as coffee or tea, and taking certain medications can all contribute to teeth becoming stained on the surface, or developing deeper stains within the inner structure of the tooth.
With time, the natural appearance of your teeth grows darker due to the build-up of stains in the enamel. These stains will remain on your teeth until you actively remove them with whitening treatments. However, it’s important to note that while most types of stains are treatable, some stains cannot be removed at all. At a cosmetic consultation, Dr. Lee can provide an examination that will let you know whether your yellowed or stained teeth can be improved by teeth whitening, or whether your smile would benefit from other cosmetic treatments such as porcelain veneers or dental bonding. Most commonly, deep “intrinsic” stains occur from taking certain medications, experiencing tooth trauma or injury, or suffering from other medical conditions or systemic diseases.
If your yellowed or discolored teeth are aging your smile, and you’re looking for the best cosmetic dentist in the Grant Park area, look no further than Dr. Abbey Lee at Smiles 4 Grant Park! Opalescence® is our American Dental Association-approved whitening system that offers quick results for patients desiring in-office or take-home solutions.