If you are a fan of TV, movies or magazines, you’ve probably noticed that most presenters, actors and stars have a smooth hair that flows with the wind, flawless skin and white and shiny teeth. It’s fair to say that rightly or wrongly, our media obsessed culture  places a high value of physical attractiveness.

However, that is not everyone’s reality. If you look, it’s clear that real teeth come in many different shades, and some of them even yellow. Although yellow teeth could be seen as a signal of poor oral hygiene, this is not always the case.

Why are teeth white?

But to understand a bit more about it, first, we need to talk about what gives teeth the colour they have. The enamel, the outer part of the teeth, is made mostly of calcium which gives the whiteness of the teeth. On the layer right beneath, we have the dentin which has a yellowish colour. This means that a strong and thicker enamel will make your teeth look whiter because it will hide the yellow colour of the dentin.

And that’s where it comes the idea of white teeth being healthier.

Are whiter teeth healthier?

But it’s not just that: genetics plays a major role in it. Some people naturally have whiter teeth than others, some people have a more translucid enamel, and this has nothing to do with hygiene or diet. Age also has an impact. As we age our enamel tends to become thinner, and our dentine tends to become thicker. This combination leads to what is kindly referred to as ‘age related tooth discolouration’.

To be clear, whitening or bleaching your teeth doesn’t make them healthier, it only removes stains that can’t be removed by brushing. So the concept that the tooth colour as an indicator of oral health is not right.

This image is an infographic which reads "did you know wearing blue toned lipstick can make your teeth look whiter (white)?"
Our tooth colour, whether yellow or white is determined by our enamel, if we have fillings or crowns, our oral hygiene, as well as the contrast to our complexion.

Maybe she’s born with it… or maybe it’s contrast?

So if you weren’t born with the whitest teeth (or even if you are), important to know that the brightness and whiteness of your teeth are relative to what is around them. Contrast is something very important when it comes to colours in general. This means that if you have a dark skin tone, or if you are wearing a blue-toned lipstick your teeth will seem whiter.

So, the main point here is to understand that white teeth don’t always mean healthy teeth. As long as you are taking proper care of your mouth and following your dentist’s advice, you shouldn’t worry about the colour of your teeth. A beautiful smile is a healthy one that makes you feel confident.

But if you drink a lot of tea, coffee, or other staining foods, then tooth whitening may be an option to restore your teeth to their natural colour.


If you would like to discuss teeth whitening book a consultation with Dr Kate Amos or Dr Sam Rosehill at Ethical Dental on 6652 3185 or book online.


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