Why are my teeth yellow?

Over time, consumption of tobacco products as well as certain foods and beverages can cause deep stains appear on one’s teeth. Heavy intake of staining and acidic beverages like coffee, tea, wine, and sodas can cause not only dark staining of the teeth, but also enamel erosion, causing a thinning of the hard outer layer of the tooth. As the enamel thins, the following, yellower tooth layer, the dentin, can show through, making teeth appear less bright.

What is teeth whitening?

Teeth whitening is the process of improving the brightness of one’s smile through any of various cosmetic dentistry procedures including dental crowns, white fillings, veneers, teeth whitening, Lumineers, and more. The goal of whitening is to improve the overall look of your smile and to help you achieve your ideal smile. Your lips, gum tissue, teeth, hair color, skin tone, and facial appearance will be taken into consideration.

How does teeth whitening work?

To understand how it works, we look at two parts: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. The first one refers to whitening the inner part of the tooth. A form of hydrogen peroxide gel is used to lighten the teeth. When the inner part has been whitened, the new color is reflected through the outer enamel of your teeth, much like how a prism works. The latter involves the removal of stains on enamel. Those stains can be left behind by drinking coffee, tea, and wine, or smoking.

Why should I get teeth whitening?

Tooth enamel contains pores that can hold stains. Every day, pellicles (thin coatings) form on the enamel and pick up stains. As one ages, their teeth starts to appear less bright. It also means that the dentin, or the second layer of tooth, becomes darker and enamel has gotten thinner. If you want to improve the appearance of your teeth, the teeth whitening procedure is an option you should consider.

While most individuals would make suitable candidates for teeth whitening procedures, you may not be suited for this treatment if you suffer from:

Enamel Hypoplasia, Photo sensitivity, Multiple or uncontrolled caries, Active Gum Disease


As teeth whitening can often cause sensitivity, your doctor may recommend for you to use a prescribed desensitizing toothpaste for 1-2 weeks prior to your procedure.

Teeth whitening treatments usually start with a cleaning to remove debris, surface stains, and accumulated tartar and calculus. Next, your dentist will determine your pre-treatment tooth shade with the aid of a shade guide to document your initial teeth color. This is how you and your dentist will verify the effectiveness of the upcoming bleaching sessions.

The next step involves isolation and protection. Your teeth need to be isolated because the powerful peroxide whiteners found in professional whitening systems can damage soft tissues if one is not careful. After placing a protective barrier over your gums, your dentist is ready to apply the bleaching agent. They do so by generously dabbing, or painting, the agent onto the surface of your teeth. The bleach itself may come in gel form or thick paste. In-office teeth whitening appointments are usually completed within one hour to 90 minutes, and may be divided into one or more cycles of whitener application. An LED light may be used to accelerate and improve the effectiveness of the bleaching agent.

After your cycles are complete, it is time to wrap up your whitening session. Since your teeth have been exposed to the whitener for a period of time, it needs to be suctioned off and your teeth are thoroughly washed. Any isolation materials and devices used during the session will be removed. A desensitizing agent, along with some ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may be used at this point to help reduce any feelings of sensitivity you may feel.

Since the mechanism by which bleaching works involves dilating the enamel pores, it is advised to stay away from any staining foods or drinks for the next 3-5 days. While these enamel pores are dilated, teeth will stain easier, so avoidance of any coffee, wine, red sauces, curries, or any food or beverage with staining capabilities will help to preserve the effects of the bleaching. The pores should close back up by 5 days after treatment.