Are your teeth a little less bright than they used to be?
If so, you’re not alone. This year consumers will pay about $7 billion to try and get their smiles a little whiter.
So, why isn’t your smile brighter, and what’s causing the stains? Genetics and the ravages of time are 2 of the usual suspects. But perhaps the biggest culprit is your daily diet.
What you eat and drink every day has a big impact on the color of your teeth. Coffee and red wine get the most press for staining teeth, but many other seemingly innocent foods and beverages can do just as much teeth staining damage.
Think of foods and beverages that can stain a carpet or a white shirt. If they can stain these, they can stain your teeth too. But as with most rules, there are some exceptions.
So, here’s a list of some surprising items in your daily diet (some might not so surprising) that can stain your teeth.
10 Foods & Drinks that Will Stain Your Teeth!
- Tea – Black, green or herbal. Tea remains the reigning tooth staining champion! Why? It has higher levels of both acid and tannins. A perfect combination for creating teeth stains. Generally, the darker you like your tea, the more likely it is to stain your beloved pearly whites.. And it doesn’t matter if you drink your tea iced or hot:; both ways can leave their mark on your teeth.
- White Wine – Drinking white wine won’t stain your teeth as much as red wine, but it can still stain your teeth. How is that? Every glass of white wine offers a lot of acidity and tannins. Because wine (red or white) is very acidic, it attacks the enamel of your teeth. And this makes it easier for stains to then penetrate the surface of your tooth. Your teeth won’t stain from the white wine itself, but it will make it easier for certain foods to stain your teeth while you drink your wine – during, or after.
- Tomato Sauce – Pass the ketchup? The high acidity level of tomatoes coupled with their bright red color offers an impressive teeth staining combination. Whether it’s spaghetti sauce, soup, or even the ketchup on your burger, if your diet is heavy in tomato sauce beware that regular, on-going constant exposure to even the smallest of doses will stain your teeth.
- Gummy Vitamins – OK, they’re supposed to be good for your health. Perhaps not so healthy for your teeth. Gummy vitamins offer a trifecta of trouble for your teeth. They contain sugar and citric acid. Citric acid wears down your tooth enamel, so it will be more prone to discoloration. But worn enamel also makes your tooth more susceptible to decay – cavities, etc. Also, there’s the sugar that comes with most gummy vitamins. Bacteria love to feed on sugar and will produce even more acid as a result. More acid equals more softening, and the risk of decay and cavities increases. They also stick to teeth, so there’s a good chance that remnants of the gummies can hang around in your mouth, long after you’ve consumed them. The longer sugar and citric acid stay on your teeth, the more likely it will damage your teeth.
- Curries – They are vibrant in color and taste, but curries are no slouch to staining teeth too; thanks to 2 of their brightly colored ingredients – turmeric and saffron. Over time, these pigments can stain your teeth by leaving a yellowish tint on them.
- Sports Drinks – These drinks promote rehydration and electrolyte replacement, but they aren’t wonderful for your teeth either. These drinks carry a lot of acidity. Again, this will wear down your tooth’s enamel, making it more vulnerable to the effects of staining – either from the sports drinks’ ingredients, or when you consume other foods. And these drinks also carry a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners, which contribute to tooth decay, and cavities.
- Fruit Juice – Drinking juice might be tasty and nutritious, but each glass you consume carries a lot of acids – that makes your teeth more susceptible to staining. Juice is also high in sugars, so it can build up the cavity causing bacteria that leads to cavities. And don’t forget about the color. The darker the juice, the more likely it is to stain your teeth, just like red wine.
- Clear Sodas – Dark sodas like Coke get more notoriety for causing tooth stains, but drinking clear sodas can also stain your teeth. Much like white wine. While dark sodas can have an immediate effect on tooth discoloration, a clear or light soda will still darken your teeth over time as the high acids from these beverages soften the tooth enamel, which will allow other stains to set in.
- Balsamic Vinegar – Salads and marinades wouldn’t be the same without balsamic vinegar. But here’s another food that offers a double staining whammy – it can wear down your tooth’s enamel, because it’s high in acidity, and then the vinegar’s dark color can stain your teeth.
- Soy Sauce – It might be a flavorful add-on for so many Asian dishes, but soy sauce will also help discolor your teeth. Because it contains a dark color, at high concentration levels, soy sauce can linger on your teeth and discolor them long after you’ve enjoyed your meal.
Tips to Reduce Tooth Stains
Living life without the joy of many of these foods and beverages would be cruel and unusual punishment. Instead of living without them for the sake of a brighter smile, there are some things you can do to minimize the effects of these teeth staining culprits.
- Brush and floss your teeth after meals to help prevent stains from setting in. Tip: Wait about 30 minutes after consuming an acidic beverage or meal before brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth too quickly after eating can actually perpetuate the enamel erosion of your teeth. Why? The enamel is already softened due to the acidity in your food or drink you recently consumed.
- Try using a straw when its convenient – the straw will help bypass most of your teeth whenever you drink certain beverages – sodas, ice tea, etc..
- Let the water flow – drink lots of water during and after meals to help flush away food particles.
- Stay on Top of Your Scheduled Teeth Cleanings!
Practicing good oral hygiene, and being mindful of your diet will help you reduce the effects of teeth stains. But if you’d like to make your beautiful smile a bit more remarkable (and brighter), we offer you some excellent take-home whitening treatments to re-brighten your smile. Find out how. Just call (206) 242-0066 for a whitening consultation or reach out to us online!
P.S. Not all teeth whitening treatments are equal – compared to the dozens of over-the-counter options – rinses, whitening strips & toothpastes – the safest, fastest and most effective whitening treatment comes from your friendly neighborhood dentist – Here are 5 Reasons to Rely On Us!