Having bright, white teeth is something many people strive for. However, there are various factors that can cause teeth to become yellow or discolored over time. While professional teeth whitening is an option, there are also some simple tricks you can use at home to make your teeth appear whiter.
What Causes Yellow Teeth?
There are several potential causes of yellow or discolored teeth:
- Food and drink stains – Coffee, tea, red wine, and dark berries can stain teeth over time.
- Smoking – Nicotine and tar buildup from smoking can discolor teeth.
- Medications – Some medicines like tetracycline antibiotics can cause teeth stains.
- Age – As the outer enamel layer of our teeth wears down with age, the yellower dentin underneath shows through.
- Trauma – An injury that damages the enamel can lead to discoloration.
- Genetics – Some people naturally have thinner enamel or yellower dentin.
How Colors Mix and Cancel Each Other Out
When it comes to color theory, opposite colors on the color wheel cancel each other out. Yellow’s complementary color is purple. Mixing together paints, pigments, dyes, or colors that are complementary will result in a neutralization of both hues.
For example, when yellow and purple light mix, the result is a neutral white light. When yellow and purple paints or pigments mix, the result is a grayish-brown color. Therefore, since purple is opposite yellow on the color wheel, it can be used to neutralize or cancel out yellow tones.
How to Cancel Out Yellow Teeth
Knowing that purple is the complementary color to yellow, we can use this knowledge to make yellow teeth appear whiter using the following methods:
Use a Purple or Bluish Rinse
Swishing with a purple or bluish mouthwash can temporarily cancel out yellow tones on your teeth, making them appear whiter. The pigments in the rinse visually neutralize yellow discoloration. Some popular options include:
- Listerine Total Care – Has blue pigments.
- Advanced White ACT Restoring – Contains blue dye.
- Colgate Optic White – Formulated with blue foam technology.
Rinse your mouth with the product for 30-60 seconds before spitting it out. The effect is temporary, so repeat daily.
Apply a Purple or Blue Toothpaste
Using a toothpaste with bluish or purple pigments can also help visually negate yellow tones long-term by neutralizing them on the surface as you brush. Some toothpaste options to try include:
- Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste – With blue covarine dye.
- Mr Blanc Teeth Whitening Toothpaste – Contains blue lake food dye.
- Prosmile Power Whitening Toothpaste – Blue pigments.
- Colgate Optic White Sparkling Mint – Blue dye.
Make sure to brush twice per day for 2-3 minutes each time.
Apply a Thin Layer of Blue or Purple Food Dye
Applying a thin layer of concentrated blue or purple food dye onto yellow teeth can instantly neutralize the yellow color. It’s best done right before a special event when you want whiter teeth fast. The steps are:
- Purchase some blue or purple food dye.
- Place a few drops onto a small, soft bristled toothbrush.
- Gently brush a thin layer of the dye onto your teeth and let sit 1-2 minutes.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly.
Avoid over-application as too much dye can look unnatural.
Get Dental Veneers
Dental veneers are thin shells made of porcelain or composite resin that cover the front of teeth. Getting veneers in a light purple hue can conceal underlying yellow discoloration:
- Veneers block the yellow from shining through.
- The light purple color counteracts the yellow.
- Veneers create a bright, white smile.
Although more expensive than other options, veneers last for many years with proper care.
Professional Teeth Whitening Methods
While using complementary colors can help conceal yellow teeth, professional whitening treatments can actually remove deep stains and alter your tooth color for the better. Here are some popular options:
In-office bleaching is done at the dentist’s office in a single visit. A higher concentration of whitening gel containing hydrogen peroxide is applied to the teeth, then accelerated with a special light or laser for very dramatic results:
|– Whitens teeth 10 shades on average||– More expensive than at-home kits|
|– Very fast visible results||– Increased tooth sensitivity is common|
|– Requires only 1 treatment||– Effects may relapse without touch-ups|
Dentist-Dispensed Take-Home Kits
Dentists can provide customized take-home whitening trays and whitening gel with higher peroxide concentrations than over-the-counter kits. You apply it daily at home:
|– Costs less than in-office methods||– Requires diligent daily use for 1-2 weeks|
|– Customized trays provide better fit||– More expensive than drugstore kits|
|– Higher peroxide levels for better efficacy||– Increased sensitivity possible|
Over-the-Counter Whitening Kits
Over-the-counter whitening kits can be purchased at pharmacies and big box stores. They contain lower concentrations of peroxide for gradual whitening over 2-4 weeks of daily use:
|– Affordable cost||– May cause some tooth sensitivity|
|– Easy to find||– Less dramatic whitening results|
|– Little effort required||– Ill-fitting trays can let gel leak|
Other Tips for Whitening Yellow Teeth
Along with the color canceling methods and professional whitening treatments covered already, there are some other helpful tips for combating yellow teeth:
- Brush after drinking staining beverages.
- Cut down on staining foods and beverages.
- Quit smoking and chewing tobacco.
- Get your teeth cleaned 2-3 times per year.
- Use an electric toothbrush for stain removal.
- Rinse with water after acidic drinks.
- Drink through a straw to avoid contact with teeth.
While professional whitening procedures done by your dentist provide the most dramatic results, using the complementary color purple to cancel out yellow tones can also be effective. Try a purple mouth rinse, toothpaste, or food dye for temporary whitening on the cheap. Stick to best practices for oral hygiene, and avoid stain-causing habits like smoking to keep your smile looking its brightest.