A Myriad Of Culprits Contribute To The Everyday Dulling Of A Beautiful, White Smile
It’s not just the dread coffee responsible for staining your pearly whites and giving you a lackluster smile.
Dark Colored Foods and Drinks
These days everyone is obsessed with having the brightest, biggest, whitest smile. Considered common knowledge–most of us know–that certain foods will stain our teeth, especially if consumed often. There are several that are particularly bad foods to watch out for in order to keep teeth white and bright.
Acidic Foods and Drinks
Surprise, did you know that foods high in acid are also responsible for yellowing and discoloring teeth? It’s not just the color of the foods and drinks you consume but the level of acidity as well. High acid levels soften the enamel coating on teeth leaving them susceptible to stains, soft and more likely to absorb colors in foods that stain teeth.
Thick, healthy enamel looks bright and white but really it’s slightly translucent, like fine china. As healthy enamel is worn away it becomes easier to see the dentin underneath. Dentin is the next layer of the tooth and it less white and more yellow. Thinner enamel, coupled with stains that seep into the pores of enamel can give teeth a yellow cast to them.
The Double Whammy List
Here’s a short list of foods that tend to be both dark in color and acidic making them the most likely to stain teeth.
- Black Tea. If you do drink black tea, avoid eating other foods with it that also have the potential to stain teeth, dark colored fruits or juices, basically anything that would stain clothing. The tannins in black tea are exceptionally good at increasing the way other foods colors can bond to enamel. Opt for Green Tea, it is considered not just a healthier option but also has less likelihood of staining teeth.
- Sugary Sweet, Sticky Treats. The longer sugar stays in your mouth the more time it has to work its mischief, so hard or chewy, those brightly colored drops of sweetness spell disaster for teeth. When you eat a candy that stains your tongue and lips a deep shade of red, blue, purple or green, guess what? Those same bright colors are also leeching into your enamel. Avoid the brightly colored hard and or chewy candies and go for a stick of sugar free gum, or even a small piece of dark chocolate instead.
- Curry and other Sauces. Some sauces are deeply colored by spices or tomatoes, they tend to have heavy concentrations of color and can be acidic as well equalling easy attachment to enamel, leaving dark stains over time. Don’t avoid healthy foods but do consider two things that will help mitigate staining. a.) Drink less wine during a meal like this. Wine is acidic and will only increase the staining potential. b.) Eat your greens. Many vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, even onions–for example) and a variety of green leafy vegetables are known to coat the teeth in a protective layer helping to prevent staining and even bacterial colonization.
- Red and White Wine. It’s common knowledge that red wine will stain teeth, in fact it will stain just about everything, even rocks. The deeply colored polyphenols and tannins in red wine are responsible for its staining powers. Maybe it will be a surprise that white wines can stain teeth equally well, if not better. The acids and tannins in white wine give it super powers for staining your teeth. Avoid eating other foods that stain teeth at the same time you are enjoying a glass of white wine.
- Soda, colas, and sports drinks. Everything we just covered about wine plus sugar! It’s not tannins in cola that does your teeth in, its phosphoric acid, and the effect is staggering. Thinking of switching to a sports drink? Think again. Studies have shown some of the most popular sports drinks to have even higher levels of acid in them then the two leading brands of soda. Drink water. Consuming water actually helps flush out acids and correct pH plus it aids your body in making more slippery saliva and that is good news for healthy teeth and gums.
- Juice Drinks. Store bought, commercially packaged juice, marketed as healthy, has an even higher acid level (for preservation) than fresh squeezed juice. Buying processed juices, especially brightly colored ones, can be more of a staining hazard than most people realize. Freshly squeezed, made on the spot, juices aren’t processed, so there is less acid, more fiber, more vitamins and they are more healthy. You still don’t want them lingering on your teeth for an extended amount of time. Swish around a sip of water when you finish just to clear out the acids and sugars left hanging out on and in between teeth.
- The Extras. Condiments like soy sauce, ketchup, balsamic vinegar and any other dark, acidic topping to your food, including some hot sauces and salsas can increase the likelihood of staining and yellowing teeth, particularly when paired with other richly colored foods than might impart more stains. This is another great time to reach for a tall glass of water. eating acidic foods or dark colored foods in combination with other foods and water can help dilute the effect and keep stain powers to a minimum.
- Richly Colored Fruits and Vegetables. Lastly, some of the most healthy foods can stain teeth because they are loaded with bright colors. The bright colors are a good indicator that they are loaded with super compounds known as polyphenols. Polyphenols are great for the body…hard on the teeth. Go ahead, eat your blueberries, your beets and your pomegranate. Eat all the blackberries you want and raspberries. Then go for some water. Sounding like a broken record?
You might be inclined to brush your teeth first but that’s a mistake. The acids in many of these foods tend to not just stain teeth but soften the enamel. It’s best to let enamel recover for at least an hour first then go in for the brushing with your soft bristled toothbrush. In the meantime, a cool glass of water and a little swish between teeth is the best first move to make. Water will dilute and neutralize strong acids and deep colors to help minimize the risk of staining teeth.
If your teeth have staining or discoloration we can help restore a bright smile giving you that confident feeling with every smile and helping your teeth stay their healthy best.