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Teeth and gum sensitivity

Teeth and gum sensitivity

It can be difficult to distinguish between sensitive teeth and sensitive gums but it’s important to learn what is causing the discomfort and then how to treat it. Both can cause pain and discomfort but require different treatments. Here we have summarised the differences between gum and tooth sensitivity, their causes, and treatment options.

Gum Sensitivity

Gum sensitivity is an irritation that starts in your gums. When we feel that type of pain, we tend to assume it’s tooth sensitivity.

However, with gum sensitivity, there are some different symptoms to look out for. Gum inflammation and gingivitis can be the source of the sensitivity.

Some signs of gingivitis are:

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Bad breath

Receding gums tends to follow gingivitis if nothing is done to slow its spread. Gum recession causes discomfort in itself. Gum sensitivity resulting from gingivitis is usually caused by inadequate oral hygiene i.e. not brushing enough or well enough. A build-up of plaque leads to uncomfortable sensitivity. As it forms along the gumline, the plaque hardens and turns into tartar, which eventually progresses into advanced gum disease if left untreated. Although poor oral hygiene is the main cause of gum sensitivity, there are other pre-existing risk factors for the condition: diabetes, pregnancy, poor diet, tobacco use, genetic factors and obesity.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity, on the other hand, is more common and has different symptoms. If you find that you wince in pain sometimes when eating or drinking something very cold or very hot, when brushing or flossing your teeth, then you have experienced tooth, rather than gum sensitivity.

Tooth sensitivity causes include:

  • Brushing too hard
  • Grinding your teeth – especially at night
  • Cavities and tooth fractures
  • Receding gums
  • Gum disease
  • Loose fillings

Anything on the list reduces dentin, the inner layer of our teeth, and causes it to become exposed. Exposed dentin is the main source of experiencing tooth sensitivity.

Treatment and Prevention

The key to both gum and tooth sensitivity prevention is the same, practising an excellent oral hygiene routine.

This involves brushing your teeth twice a day and cleaning between your teeth with floss, once a day, will get the hard-to-reach bacteria that turn into plaque.

Make sure you maintain a balanced and nutritious diet and be sure to avoid any tobacco products. If you have been given a mouthguard to help you stop grinding your teeth, make sure you wear it regularly.

By regularly seeing your dentist and/or hygienist for regular check-ups and maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine at home in between visits, you are doing everything you can to avoid both tooth and gum sensitivity. Any measures you can take to make your lifestyle healthier will also benefit your teeth and gums. If you have any questions about sensitivity and are still unsure as to which you are suffering from or how best to treat it, please make sure that you make an appointment to speak to your dentist.

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Teeth whitening during pregnancy – is it safe?

Teeth whitening during pregnancy – is it safe?

Congratulations! You’re pregnant! Understandably, you might have a list of things you want to do before the baby arrives, like getting your teeth whitened. However, teeth whitening whilst pregnant might not be the best idea. Associated risks to a developing foetus appear to be extremely small but most women would prefer not to take the risk and instead wait until after the baby has arrived.

The information on teeth whitening in pregnancy is still very new but this is what is known:

The American Pregnancy Association recommends that any cosmetic treatments that are not immediately necessary should be postponed until after the baby arrives. The American Dental Association agrees, stating that due to the unknown but potential safety concerns related to the bleaching chemicals, pregnant women should delay any teeth whitening until after the baby arrives, to eliminate any potential risk.

There is nothing to stop you from discussing your options with your dentist now and having a treatment plan all ready to go for when you decide to start. You can also use this time to research the different methods of teeth whitening and seek advice as to which will work best for you.

Oral health changes in pregnancy

Bleaching chemicals aside, pregnancy itself can actually prompt a number of oral health effects. These can all be managed well by your dentist but it would seem sensible not to start whitening your teeth when the pregnancy and all of the associated bodily changes, may affect your teeth too.

During pregnancy, the following could occur:

  • Tooth erosion due to the increase in the acidity of saliva caused by morning sickness
  • Cravings for sugary foods could cause cavities
  • Hormonal changes can cause round growths on the gums, called Pyogenic granulomas
  • Swollen or bleeding gums could be cause by hormonal changes during pregnancy

Make sure you speak to your dentist if you start to develop any of these conditions or any discomfort. Of course, if you need to have dental treatment for dental pain or damage during pregnancy, then this is deemed necessary and it’s safe to proceed. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that wherever possible, treatment occurs during the second trimester because by the third trimester it will be difficult to lie comfortably in the dentist’s chair for extended periods.

Looking after your teeth and mouth during pregnancy

There are many things you can do before and during pregnancy to ensure your teeth and oral health are well looked after. Some steps include:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Limiting snacks and sugary foods and drinks
  • Brushing twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing every day

Continue to visit your dentist for regular checkups before and during your pregnancy

Speak to your dentist about your pregnancy to ensure your oral health is being well maintained. Ideally, postponing any cosmetic procedures, such as whitening, and keeping on top of your oral hygiene throughout your pregnancy, will ensure that you can focus on welcoming your new baby.

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How to write a letter from the Tooth Fairy

How to write a letter from the Tooth Fairy

Losing milk teeth can be scary for children. Maybe that’s why adults came up with the Tooth Fairy: it makes the prospect of losing a tooth exciting instead.

Traditionally, the tooth fairy has left money under children’s pillows in exchange for their teeth. But instead of it all being about (costly!) rewards, you can also make good use of the loss of a tooth to remind your child about good tooth care. The tooth fairy is now leaving thank you notes!

What should a letter from the tooth fairy say?

In her letter, the tooth fairy might want to:

  • Congratulate your child on looking after their tooth so well. This is a perfect time to remind your child of good dental hygiene. Saying that you have noticed they are clearly brushing twice a day and flossing might be a good reminder!
  • Comment on how the tooth was lost. Children love this kind of personal touch, particularly if there is a funny story around it.
  • Some insights into the life of the tooth fairy! It is such a magical idea so your child probably has many questions about the tooth fairy.

Answers to your children’s questions

Your children will have questions about the tooth fairy, and you can answer these questions in your letter from the Tooth Fairy.

In case your tooth fairy knowledge is a bit rusty, we have some ideas below for you. Obviously, as a fictional character, there is no correct answer, but it helps to pre-empt some of the likely questions!

  • What happens to all the children’s teeth? This might be a tooth fairy secret. You could come up with some ideas with your child. Some rumours are that the teeth get used as bricks for the tooth fairy castle or that they get ground down to make fairy dust.
  • Does just one fairy collect all of the teeth? This depends on what you have told your children in the past. If you decide there is only one fairy doing all of the tooth collecting, sign your letter The Tooth Fairy but if you decide there are lots of fairies all sharing the work, this can help explain why some children get a letter, some get money and some get both.
  • How old Is the tooth fairy? The tooth fairy is thought to be over 100 years old. They were first mentioned in 1908 but fairies tend to be spritely and age slowly so who knows if fairy ages are the same as human years!

Final tips for writing a Tooth Fairy letter

Of course, you can make your letter as simple or as elaborate as you wish. Bear in mind you are setting a precedent for any other teeth and any other children in your household!

  • Your child has lots of teeth so keep your letters short and avoid putting all of your ideas into your first letter!
  • Remember to print your letter in a magical font or disguise your handwriting. Children are smart!
  • Remember that a magical letter is likely to have a magical appearance. Glitter and stickers can give your letter that magical look.

Whatever approach you decide to take, you will make a visit from the tooth fairy a special one and a good opportunity to discuss dental hygiene.

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What is a tooth extraction like?

What is a tooth extraction like?

A tooth extraction is the removal of one of your teeth. There are many reasons why your dentist might recommend a tooth extraction. Your tooth might be too damaged to repair, or your mouth might simply be too overcrowded with too many teeth.

In this post, we’ll go over what you can expect from a tooth extraction.

The extraction

A dental extraction will always be carried out by a trained dentist or dental surgeon. Your dentist will use a local anaesthetic to keep you comfortable during the procedure and the numbness may take a little while to wear off afterwards. Depending on the site of the tooth that was removed, you may receive a small square of gauze tucked into the space where your tooth was. This helps the blood start to clot where a tooth is removed. You will be advised to leave the gauze in place for 30 to 45 minutes after the procedure.

Recovery

A tooth extraction usually requires a few days of recovery and sometimes a few weeks to properly heal before work can start on replacements for cosmetic reasons.

The first 24 hours

You should treat the area around where the tooth was removed with care for 24 hours after extraction and avoid rinsing your mouth or vigorously brushing the site of the extraction. It is also recommended that you avoid smoking or using straws for a while because they could disrupt the newly formed blood clot protecting the site.

The next few days

Once 24 hours have passed, you can restart your usual oral care routine but take care to still avoid the extraction site for a few more days. If you notice anything getting worse over time and not better i.e. swelling, nausea, pain or bleeding, make sure you speak to your dentist.

Replacing the missing tooth

Once the extraction site is healed, you can get a replacement tooth.

There are several options to discuss with your dentist:

  • Dentures. These can be full or partial. They are suggested when several teeth have been removed. Dentures can also now be removable or permanent.
  • Dental implants. This is when a metal post is attached to the newly formed bone and the site is given a singular crown to help fill in the gap. This works best if the extraction was of just a single tooth.
  • Dental bridges. These are used when one or two teeth are essentially anchored to the healthy teeth beside the site. This can be particularly helpful if you’ve had more than one tooth removed.

Conclusion

Hearing that you need to have a tooth extracted may seem stressful and daunting but be confident that your dentist would not suggest the procedure unless it was absolutely necessary. It might change your smile for a few weeks, and be slightly uncomfortable for a day or two, but with consistent aftercare, you’ll be able to choose a replacement option that makes you feel confident about your new smile.

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Home remedies for tooth pain

Home remedies for tooth pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. If you have ever had a toothache, you will know that tooth pain is no fun at all. Always seek advice from a dental health professional if you are experiencing any pain but here are some handy tooth pain home remedies just in case you are unable to see a professional straight away.

Causes of tooth pain

Many things can cause tooth pain to strike.

  • Teeth sensitivity. If the layer of hard tissue located under the tooth enamel gets exposed, this can make your teeth very sensitive to hot and cold liquids and sugary drinks. Recessed gums or worn down tooth enamel can expose this dentin.
  • Cavities. Cavities are another main cause of tooth pain. If the sensitive nerves in your teeth are exposed, something as simple and frequent as biting something hard could be very painful.
  • Cracked teeth. If you bite down on something too hard, you could crack a tooth, which can also be very painful. Trauma from an accident can also crack a tooth. In a severe enough case, the tender nerves that reside deep in your teeth could be exposed, resulting in pain.
  • Loose fillings or crowns. Sometimes dental treatment to fix one issue can cause another problem. Fillings and crowns can sometimes become loose or cracked, resulting in tooth pain.

Options to relieve tooth pain at home

First of all, keep in mind that these remedies only provide short term relief and are not meant to be a substitute for seeing a dentist. Always see your dentist as soon as possible if you suffering from tooth pain. Your dentist will be able to get to the source of the problem and treat it for you.

But while you’re waiting to see your dentist, here are some home remedies you can try to reduce your tooth pain.

  • Painkillers. Your first option to relieve a toothache will probably be over the counter pain relief, such as ibuprofen.
  • Cold compress. s an ice pack or a cool, wet washcloth can help to relieve pain and swelling.
  • Clove Oil. Clove oil relieves pain and reduces the swelling associated with toothache. Clove oil contains a natural aesthetic and acts as a temporary pain reliever. Soak up a few drops of clove oil in a cotton ball, then gently rub the cotton ball over the affected teeth and gums.
  • Salt Water. Another option is to try rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater. Add a few teaspoons of salt to a cup of warm water. Swish the mixture around your mouth and then spit it out.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide. In a similar way to saltwater, a hydrogen peroxide rinse can relieve pain and swelling in the mouth. It has also been found to kill bacteria, reduce plaque and heal bleeding gums. To prepare the solution, mix 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of water. Swish it around your mouth, but don’t swallow it.
  • Peppermint Oil. Peppermint oil has been used to treat toothaches throughout history. It has antibacterial properties, making it a popular choice for those seeking short-term toothache relief until dental help is available. Use a cotton ball to apply a few drops of oil to the affected area.

Remember, these remedies are not are a long-term solution to your tooth pain. If you have tooth pain, then please see a dentist as soon as you can.

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What is a compound odontoma?

What is a compound odontoma?

Compound odontoma can feel like a scary diagnosis, but it is a fully treatable growth. Your dentist can sometimes pick up these tumours during your routine dental X-rays, and lots of them do not cause any harm. Here we will give you more information on what these growths are, the different types that can develop, and what treatment options are available to you.

What Are Odontomas?

Odontomas are noncancerous oral tumours. Luckily, they are rare, and they do not spread or cause further harm. These abnormal growths replicate surrounding tissues in the mouth that comprise teeth, such as enamel, dentin, and pulp tissues. They grow slowly, but in some rare cases, they can erupt into the oral cavity.

Odontomas are the most common type of odontogenic tumour. They can occur at any age but they are much more likely to occur in young adults, between the ages of 14 and 18 years. Odontomas usually develop in the upper jaw and are slightly more common in females. The cause of odontomas is still unknown, but they have been associated with trauma, infection and childhood inflammatory processes affecting the jaws. People with certain genetic conditions, such as Gardner syndrome and Hermann’s syndrome, seem to be more prone to odontomas. In 80% of odontoma cases, the tooth associated with the odontoma is impacted, i.e., it hasn’t erupted from the gums.

Types of odontoma

There are complex and compound odontomas.

A complex odontoma has a mixed, disorganised structure of a tissue mass. On the other hand, compound odontomas often have a tooth-like structure and are arranged in a uniform manner – similar to a normal tooth. They are twice as common as complex odontomas, and they often appear as a collection of small teeth on a dental X-ray. There have also been cases where patients have had multiple compound odontomas.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Dentists can usually diagnose odontomas by examining X-rays of a patient’s jaw. Although the growths are benign, dentists may advise some treatment with minor surgery for comfort, rather than necessity. Tumours that are surgically removed will not usually reoccur. Simply monitoring the development of an odontoma might be a viable option if a patient is not experiencing any symptoms and the tumour is not stopping the teeth from forming into the correct position.

Your dentist, in combination with other specialists, will always advise and guide you on your treatment options and ensure you are in safe hands.

An odontomas diagnosis can be scary but remember, a tumour doesn’t always mean cancer, and treatment is not always required. Seeing your dentist regularly will make sure that your teeth and gums are checked for health, but that your head and neck are also examined, This is why regular checkups, as well as regular dental X-rays, are incredibly important for good oral and overall health.

If you have noticed anything unusual or if anything about any aspect of your care is causing you concern, please seek advice from one of the team.

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4 New Year’s resolutions for your teeth

4 New Year’s resolutions for your teeth

The New Year is an excellent time to make a change. Many of New Year’s resolutions involve taking steps to improve our health and our happiness. So why not make a resolution this year to improve your oral care?

In this post, we’ll look at four resolutions that can improve the health of your teeth and gums.

1. Brush your teeth twice a day

If you’re not brushing your teeth twice a day, then now’s a good time to start. By brushing your teeth regularly with fluoride toothpaste, you can dramatically reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease.

Here’s a reminder of the best practices for your oral health routine:

  • Brush gently for two minutes, twice a day
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect your enamel
  • Angle your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line when brushing
  • Use a toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Clean between your teeth, either with floss or an alternative device
  • Rinse your mouth after brushing with a mouthwash

Carrying out these oral care routines twice a day will improve your mouth’s health.

When you start making changes, try to notice the small differences you are noticing. If you start flossing, you will soon start noticing that your gums bleed less, are less sensitive and that you feel more confident in your smile.

Remember that consistency is key when trying to establish new habits. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a floss, but instead try to do it regularly for the rest of the week.

2. Eat healthier

Your diet is also very important when keeping your mouth healthy. What you eat can easily turn into food for bacteria in your mouth and contribute to gum disease and cavities.

Try to follow some of these steps towards a healthier diet:

  • Limit your intake of sugary or acidic foods and drinks
  • Avoid snacking between meals wherever possible
  • Rinse your mouth with water after meals or sugary drinks
  • Try to eat lots of nutrient-dense foods such as fruit and vegetables

3. Get your dental problems fixed

A New Year’s resolution might also involve addressing any existing dental problems that you have been putting up with. Bite the bullet (so to speak!) and ask for advice on anything bothering you regarding your dental health. Have you been suffering from sensitive teeth? dry mouth? difficulty in brushing or flushing? seek advice from your dental professional to get you on track to great oral health.

4. Quit smoking

You know it really – smoking is not only bad for your overall health but your oral health too. Tobacco can stain your teeth and increase your risk of many dental problems. This could be the year you completely commit to quitting smoking altogether.

Conclusion

Making a New Year’s resolution to improve your health in any way is a great decision. Remember to be forgiving if you have any setbacks and allow yourself time for your new routines to solidify into habits. It will take time, but you can do it!

You are now equipped with the knowledge to make this the year you make drastic changes to improve your dental health.

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Looking after your teeth as you get older

Looking after your teeth as you get older

Good dental hygiene and oral care are important at any age, but as we age, we might notice changes in our oral health that pose new challenges. Your dentist will be able to fully support you with these, but it is good to know what to look out for.

What might change as we get older?

As with any other area of our bodies, as we get older, we might develop conditions that were not present when we were younger. We’ll address some of these conditions now.

1. Dry Mouth

Getting older in itself doesn’t necessarily make you more prone to dry mouth, however some of the other factors that come with ageing can.

Taking some regular medications, having a chronic health condition or having existing cavities or decay can increase your risk for developing dry mouth.

If you feel you may be suffering from this, speak to your dentist who can recommend some products to help.

2. Wear and tear

As the enamel on the teeth inevitably starts to wear down through many years of chewing food, ageing teeth can have a greater risk of developing cavities.

3. Disease

This ranges from oral cancer and less serious illnesses, such as oral thrush.

4. Gum disease

Plaque forming on teeth, resulting in gum disease is one of the major causes of tooth loss in adults. See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease because the sooner you treat it the better.

5. Sensitive Teeth

You may notice that your teeth become more sensitive as you get older. This can be due to your gums naturally receding and whereby exposing areas of the tooth that are not protected by enamel.

Initially, you could try toothpaste for sensitive teeth but if the problem persists, speak to your dentist.

How to look after your teeth as you get older

The good news is that many of these dental problems above are easily identified, solved, or even prevented when you know what to look for.

Keeping your ageing teeth and gums in tip-top shape requires a few common-sense practices:

  • Maintain regular dental visits: Even if you have dentures it is important to get your teeth and gums checked regularly.
  • Brush and floss daily
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Avoid tobacco: Tobacco in any form has been linked to an increased risk of mouth and throat cancer, not to mention heart disease and other serious conditions.
  • Monitor your sugar intake make healthy choices to limit your sweets and fizzy drink consumption. It is also a good idea to brush shortly after snacking if you can.
  • Calcium intake. Ensure you have low-fat dairy products in your diet to prevent osteoporosis, which can also affect the bone surrounding your teeth.

Does your arthritis make brushing or flossing difficult?

If arthritis or any other mobility issue can make brushing or flossing difficult or uncomfortable, speak to your dentist about dental aids that make brushing easier.

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Men’s oral health

Men’s oral health

November 19th is International Men’s Day. It’s a day when we celebrate the positive value men bring to the world, their families and communities.

But did you know that men typically fare worse than women when it comes to oral health? This includes rates of gum disease, tooth loss and oral infections.

In this post, we’ll have a look at some of the dental issues that affect men more than women.

1. Gum problems

In general, men suffer more from gum disease than women. In fact, men have more severe periodontal disease than women of every age.

2. Oral cancer

Statistically, twice as many men as women develop oral cancer, often from smoking, chewing tobacco and drinking alcohol. In addition, white and African American women both have a lower incidence of pharyngeal cancer than men of the same background.

3. Missing teeth

A recent study in the Journal of Aging Research showed that elderly men have fewer teeth than women by a certain age. As a result, they more frequently wore dentures than women. This can cause more gum issues without proper care and maintenance.

4. Higher Risk of HPV

Poor oral health is also a risk factor for oral human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. More men than women suffer from the oral presentation of this virus, which can lead to oral cancer. Similarly, four times as many men as women suffer from oral cancer associated with HPV.

Why do men have more oral health problems than women?

Some of it can be attributed to the fact that typically, men neglect their dental health routines more so than women. Men are less likely to visit a dentist than women, according to a recent study. Rather than seeing the dentist for regular check-ups as is recommended, men tend to visit a dentist only when they have a problem that needs attention. Research has shown that around 8% more women brush their teeth twice a day than men. Men are also less likely than women to brush their teeth after every meal.

However, further research has shown that the quality of men’s dental health may not be all entirely their own fault. Because there is a higher incidence of heart disease and high blood pressure in men, more men will be taking medications to control these conditions and many of these medications are known to cause dry mouth. Saliva has a protective effect against bacteria, so the chances of dental issues increase when saliva production is low. Even more reason to up your brushing!

What can men do?

We’ve seen that men are at a  disadvantage when it comes to oral health. However,  there is plenty men can do to reduce their risk of dental problems. Brushing twice per day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day can maintain healthy teeth and gums. A dentist can offer advice on how to help prevent dry mouth.

Remember it is not all doom and gloom. Being aware of a lot of these issues and seeking help early on could make all the difference.

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Ten causes of yellow teeth

Ten causes of yellow teeth

Although not usually a sign that anything is wrong or needs treating, yellowing teeth can affect your confidence in your smile.

Luckily, improving the colour of your teeth can be as easy as making some simple changes to what you eat and drink and making a few tweaks to your dental routine.

Here are the top ten causes of yellowing teeth and how to address them:

1. Genes

Sometimes, simply, yellow teeth runs in the family. If you have a parent with yellow teeth, then chances are you’ll have problems with yellow teeth too.

2. Dentin

If you have thin enamel on your teeth, the dentin underneath can show through. Dentin naturally is a deep yellow to brownish colour and is underneath the enamel. Dentin is normally covered by a thick layer of white enamel but stains can develop on the enamel too.

3. Aging

Unfortunately, as we age, our teeth normally start to turn yellow, when the enamel starts to wear away from years of chewing and exposure to acids from food and drink. As the enamel thins with age, yellow can develop if the dentin starts to show through but it is not uncommon for teeth to develop a greyish tinge too if they are mixed with a long-lasting food stain.

4. Smoking

It is very well-known now that smoking is very detrimental to our overall health and just about every part of the body. The mouth is no exception. Among other more serious complications, cosmetically alone, nicotine products can leave a long-lasting yellow or brown stain on your teeth.

5. Foods

Everyday food can be notoriously bad for staining teeth! Tomato sauces, curries and berries can all stain the enamel. We can’t avoid these foods (life is too short!) but if you are aware of them, you can brush your teeth after eating them or rinse your mouth with water.

6. Drinks

Two of the country’s favourite hot drinks are very guilty of staining teeth – tea and coffee. Other culprits are wines, fizzy drinks and other soft drinks with artificial flavours. Always rinse after enjoying them.

7. Antibiotics

Some antibiotics can stain teeth when they’re developing in the gums. If you took certain antibiotics as a child or if your mother took them when pregnant, this could be responsible for a yellow hue.

8. Fluoride

Fluoride is very good for teeth, but too much fluoride can cause yellow or brownish yellow spots on teeth. Ensure you only consume the recommended amount of fluoride.

9. Accidents

Any physical impact to teeth in an accident can crack tooth enamel and potentially even damage the tooth’s interior. If you notice any discolouration after impact or trauma to your teeth, seek advice from your dentist.

10. Tooth grinding

Tooth grinding is on the rise, what with the stressful lives most people have today. It is a completely unconscious habit that can get worse when people are particularly stressed, especially whilst sleeping. Over time, grinding can be harmful to tooth enamel, potentially weakening it to the point of cracking and yellowing. If you think that you may be grinding your teeth, speak to your dentist.

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