Hollywood smiles have trained people to expect – and hope for – white teeth. However, yellowing teeth are all too common. There are dozens of factors that can create yellowing of the teeth, or more accurately, factors that turn the enamel yellow.

Naturally, most people want to treat their yellowing teeth by whitening them. Which raises one significant question: does whitening teeth damage the enamel? Or are these products/services safe to use?

Causes for Yellowing

There are dozens of different reasons why teeth can begin to turn yellow. While some of these factors are in our control (more on that in a moment), there are some factors out of our control, such as genetics.

Natural wear and tear is another factor that can create the look of yellow teeth. This is one of the many reasons why people are encouraged to do their best when taking care of their teeth.

Other factors in our control include:

  • Eating starchy or sugary foods.
  • Drinks (coffee, tea, wines, and soft drinks).
  • Taking too much vitamin C.   
  • Additionally, conditions such as Acid Reflux can cause yellowing teeth 
  • Certain medications.

Prevention and Treatment

While many people are quick to jump right to whitening, several options are available – both as a preventative measure and as treatment. Proper brushing and flossing are the most obvious oaths, of course.

Using whitening toothpaste is a happy middle ground for many, as are dental guards for those that grind their teeth at night (another cause for damage and this yellowing).

Enamel Loss

When yellowing begins, it’s easy to focus on the outward appearance of it all. However, there is something more concerning that needs to be discussed. Yellowing of the teeth is a sign of enamel loss, as this is a sign of outward damage.

Signs of enamel loss include sensitivity to foods and temperatures, yellowing, rougher or jagged teeth, and even indentations. If you notice any of these signs, it is worth bringing up at your next dental appointment.

Is Whitening Safe?

So the big question is: is teeth whitening safe? Or, to put it another way, does whitening teeth damage enamel? The good news is that teeth whitening does not damage enamel and thus is safe to use.