I think most of us would like to have a gleaming white smile, with straight teeth and pink gums. Indeed, studies show that between 18-52 per cent of people in the UK are dissatisfied with the colour of their teeth. No doubt this is because of the huge media attention white smiles attract – and the connotations of wealth, health and beauty that are attached to them.
But it’s important for you to remember that having a white smile doesn’t necessarily mean your teeth are healthy. Staining on your teeth is not indicative of poor oral health – in fact, it’s a natural part of the ageing process your teeth go through.
Certain foods and drinks, for example, will discolour your teeth, but this doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. And, likewise, pearly white teeth can still have gum infections or cavities.
In fact, there is even one particular type of stain that some researchers may even protect against tooth decay. This is a dark stain that is seen along the tops of the teeth, by the gum line. Contrary to what people might think about tooth stains – and for reasons still unknown – it has been found in some studies that children with this type of staining are less likely to have tooth decay. The experts think that the microbes in the stain might somehow be protective.[i]
Of course, in some cases discolouration can indicate decay or other disease, so it is worth getting stains checked out by a dentist. But just as white teeth aren’t necessarily healthy, off-colour teeth aren’t necessarily bad either.