Preventative Dentistry: Tooth Stains and Aging

Preventative Dentistry: Tooth Stains and Aging

A lot of things get better with age – friendships, wine, and great fishing stories – but, unfortunately, not your teeth.

Yellowing and staining are common effects of aging, and conversely, premature yellowing makes even a healthy young person look older. In fact, research has shown that, on average, people think yellow teeth make a person look about 13 years older than when the same person has healthy-looking white teeth.

So, what can you do? Read on to learn more…

Effects of Lifestyle Choices on Teeth

Years of drinking coffee, black tea, cola, and wine and eating acidic or highly pigmented foods will cause staining on even the healthiest teeth. Even healthy foods like certain fruits can cause discoloration – as a rule of thumb, you can bet that if it will stain your clothes, it will stain your teeth

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat blueberries – maintaining a healthy diet will benefit your whole body, including your mouth. Just follow the tips below to minimize the image of highly pigmented or acidic foods and drinks.

In addition to many more harmful health effects, smoking is a primary contributor to tooth staining. This may seem minor compared to the increased risk of cancers and heart disease, but unattractive yellow teeth may help motivate some smokers to quit, so spread the word!

Effects of the Aging Process on Teeth

We don’t want you to feel guilty about your tooth discoloration – even if you only drink water and eat brown rice, your teeth will still naturally get yellower with age.

As you get older, the porous layer of enamel on your teeth thins, letting the yellowish material below, called dentin, show through. In addition, the microscopic holes in the naturally porous enamel get larger with age, making older teeth even more susceptible to staining.

Your teeth are are not only more prone to staining as you age, but also to more serious dental issues, so it’s especially important for older patients to come in for cleanings and checkups at least every 6 months.

What to Do

There are things you can do to combat the effects of aging on your teeth, and luckily, they’re very simple!

Vigilant Brushing and Flossing

Thoroughly but gently brush your teeth morning and night to clean teeth and protect your delicate gums. Don’t neglect your flossing either, because it removes the plaque buildup around the edges of teeth that attracts stains.

Don’t Let it Linger

How you consume foods and drinks that stain also makes a difference. One of the simplest ways to prevent stains is to rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic or highly pigmented foods. You can also drink with a straw and avoid sipping on your coffee or black tea over a long period of time to minimize contact with teeth.

Dental Visits are Essential

As we mentioned above, be sure to come and see the dentist at least every 6 months. Professional cleanings can get rid of stains that daily brushing and flossing can’t. At these visits, the dentist will also check for age-related dental problems like dry mouth, tooth decay, gum disease, and more.

Touch Up with Home Whitening

If you aren’t satisfied with the results of daily dental hygiene and regular cleanings, you can consider whitening procedures to boost your smile. Whitening toothpaste and home whitening kits are an effective way to combat staining in between visits, though you may need to avoid whitening products if you have sensitive teeth. These methods are also not ideal for patients with prominent dental restorations, because home whitening kits only work on natural teeth and may cause visible contrast.

Deep Bleaching for Permanent Whitening

If you have serious stains or simply want a more permanent solution, Dr. Mullins offers the KöR Deep Bleaching System, widely considered to be the most effective bleaching process available.  The KöR process causes little to no sensitivity and is completely safe for gums and teeth, because it works by helping teeth naturally absorb oxygen, dissolving the molecules that cause staining. It’s even effective on teeth stained by tetracycline, and the effects are permanent with minimal maintenance.

Have your teeth yellowed as you’ve aged? Get in touch today to find out what we can do to help!

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