Why My Teeth Look Yellow in Certain Lighting? (Find out Here!)   

why my teeth look yellow in certain lighting

The selfie has totally transformed the way we look and think about ourselves.

Before selfies were as common as they are today most folks only ever got a peek at themselves when they passed a mirror, saw the reflection in a puddle, or flipped through photos that (usually) were taken days, weeks, maybe even months or years previous.

Now though, we can get instant feedback about how we look at any point in time – all day long – and this has a lot of us wondering why our teeth look different in different lighting conditions.

You may have noticed that your teeth look bright white and brilliant in certain lighting situations and downright yellowed and almost unrecognizable in others.

What’s going on?

What’s causing all that?

Is there anything we can do to guarantee that our teeth look bright white all the time?

Read on to learn more.

Why My Teeth Look Yellow in Certain Lighting?

Believe it or not, the enamel your teeth are protected by (the outermost layer) has less of an impact on the color of your teeth than the next layer down, a layer of dentin.

Dentin is another really hard biomaterial, a biomaterial that protects the most sensitive part of your teeth. This is where the nerve endings are, this is where the blood vessels are. This is what starts to feel sort of sensitive when you’re dealing with a tooth ache.

Anyway, because the enamel on your teeth are only partially responsible for the color of your smile it’s not at all unusual for different kinds of light to reflect and refract different and often subtle color changes.

Under bright sunlight your teeth might look fantastic, just about as white as can be. They might look exactly the same when you’re sitting under fluorescent light, too.

LED lighting, though, can sort of play with the color of your smile depending on the hues of the lights themselves. LEDs that have more blue in them usually show up a whiter smile, whereas those with more red or green in them tend to dull or yellow your smile a little.

Incandescent lighting (a favorite in households the world over) is always a softer, warmer light. That means you’re going to be dealing with a light source that is throwing off a yellow or orange hue – and that’s obviously going to impact how your smile looks.

At the end of the day, the amount (and color) of dentin showing through your enamel, the color of the enamel itself, and the kind of light a lighting source is putting off will all play a role in how your smile looks from one moment to the next!

Can light change teeth color? You bet it can.

It’s annoying, to be sure, but it’s important to remember that the same exact thing is happening to everyone’s smile.

What Light Makes My Teeth Look Whiter

If we’re talking about the type of light that shows your teeth color in their most accurate form, we’re probably going to be hunting for a fluorescent light. In fact, flourescens properties can help dientist in their diagnosis.

This kind of light is very bright, very strong, has a lot of “white light” compared to other options, and is consistent enough to give you an accurate idea of your smile’s actual color.

LED light can get pretty close, too – but it has to be very white LED light. It can have a little bit of blue in it as well (though any blue is going to shade your smile in a slightly brighter and whiter direction), but you want to stay away from LEDs right in red and green.

This is why your smile in direct sunlight can be thrown off a bit, and why smiles under incandescent light are anything but reliable.

There’s just too much “hue pollution” in these kinds of lighting conditions to give you an accurate idea of what your smile really looks like.

Yellow Teeth Causes

Aside from different lighting conditions making your teeth look yellower (or even whiter!) than they really are, there are a couple of other reasons you might be dealing with a yellower smile than you’d like.

Your DNA

Believe it or not, the brightness of your smile is going to be heavily influenced by your own genetics!

If you’ve got a family history of smiles that are duller, greyer, or even more yellow then the odds are pretty good you’re going to be in a similar boat. There are ways to overcome these genetic predispositions, but it’s important to understand that they are real and play a huge role in how your smile looks.

Dentin Coloration

We already mentioned that your smile’s color is only partially produced by the outermost layer of your teeth, the enamel. Instead, the dentin underneath (a material that is almost always light yellow to deep yellow or even brownish) has a huge impact on the brightness and whiteness of your smile.

As enamel wears down (something that happens naturally over time) more dentin shines through and your teeth begin to look yellower and yellower.

Everything You Put in Your Mouth

Everything you eat, everything you drink, everything you smoke – even the antibiotics and dental health products you use – will have an impact on how bright, how white, or how yellow your smile is.

Acidic foods and sugary drinks will do a number on your smile faster than you would have thought possible. Smoking can leave behind surface stains on your teeth, too.

Even abrasive toothpastes and some fluorides can start to chew away at your enamel, letting more dentin shine through and dulling your smile along the way.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, your smile is going to look different in all different kinds of lighting conditions no matter what you do.

Sometimes your smile is going to look almost so white it feels phony just because of the way light is bouncing off of the enamel and dentin. Sometimes, though, lighting conditions are going to be so poor that your smile is going to look neglected and a little “rundown”.

There’s not a whole lot you can do about how light impacts the way your smile looks short of getting out of those lighting conditions altogether!

The best thing you can do to maintain a bright and white smile, though, is to take your dental health seriously.

Brush twice a day. Floss regularly. Use a high quality mouthwash. Consider taking advantage of whitening toothpastes or even going to your dentist and having them professionally point your smile.

Take care of your teeth and you’ll always know that no matter what the light does to your smile you’re really packing a full set of pearly whites!

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