Despite a steadfast commitment to dental hygiene, it's not uncommon to notice teeth discoloration, especially as you age. But as Prevention reports, a few seemingly innocuous lifestyle habits can actually contribute to a less-than-stellar smile. While drinking too much coffee and smoking are the obvious offenders, small things like overusing mouthwash, eating too many acidic fruits, and brushing your teeth too hard can yellow your smile over time.
All three of these habits actually weaken your tooth enamel, explains Harold Katz, DDS, founder of The California Breath Clinic. While the outer layer of your tooth enamel is a white to whitish-blue-gray color, the layer just beneath that, called dentin, is yellow. "What is disheartening is that many commercial mouthwashes are very acidic, and if used very frequently, they may destroy precious tooth enamel," Katz told the magazine.
Same goes for acidic foods and drinks like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, pineapples, vinegar, carbonated beverages, sports drinks, and some vinegar-based salad dressings. "That doesn't mean you need to cut all of these out of your life, but it's a good idea to sip some water after eating or drinking them," he advises.
Finally, brushing your teeth too enthusiastically can also wear down your enamel, allowing your yellow dentin layer to shine through. Although your teeth may feel cleaner, brushing harder and faster doesn't necessarily mean a healthier mouth. "This can be especially true if your toothpaste contains abrasive agents, such as choices that aren't approved by the American Dental Association," explains Mazen Natour, DMD, a Manhattan-based prosthodontist.
If you're starting to notice that your teeth are becoming a little too yellow for your liking, check out the eight best teeth-whitening kits. Or see seven effective ways you can whiten your teeth at home.
This article was originally published on MyDomaine and has since been updated.