Pesky teeth stains. They can get in the way of a great smile. Truth is, what you eat and drink has a big impact on the whiteness of your teeth. Although some foods and drinks stain teeth, it's less well known that others can help keep your smile bright.
Foods That Stain Your Teeth
Anything that leaves a mark on your hands or clothes can also stain your teeth. Sadly, several well-loved favorites top the list:
- Red and white wine
- Grape or cranberry juice
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce
No need to panic. You don't have to avoid these foods altogether, but it's a good idea to brush or rinse your mouth thoroughly after enjoying them.
Foods That Prevent Tooth Stains
Surprise! Some common fruits and vegetables scrub your teeth gently while you chew them. They also make you produce saliva, which may sound gross but actually neutralizes acid and cleans your mouth. Stain-preventing fruits and vegetables include:
Hard cheeses also give your teeth a scrub.
Other Ways to Keep Teeth Bright
Drink with a straw. When you drink soda, juice, or iced coffee or tea, using a straw helps keep the liquid away from the visible front surfaces of your teeth.
Brush, floss, and rinse. Plaque makes your teeth sticky and gives stains something to hold on to. Brushing twice daily, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouth rinse twice a day will help you fight plaque and, therefore, make your teeth less likely to stain.
Get your teeth professionally cleaned. At least twice a year, make an appointment with a dental hygienist for a thorough cleaning. Clean teeth look brighter.
Don't smoke. Whether you chew it or smoke it, tobacco stains teeth.
When to Whiten, and When to Think Twice
Still frustrated by stains? There are other options. Bleaching can be a good way to brighten teeth. Tooth whitening works well on teeth that are yellow, but teeth that are brown or gray often have problems that bleach can't fix. And while you can re-whiten if stains return, overdoing it can permanently damage the enamel on your teeth. Read the label to make sure you use the products correctly.
Talk with your dentist to find out if tooth whitening is a good idea for you. If so, you have the following options to choose from.
At-Home Whitening Kits: You can buy kits at your local drugstore. Keep in mind that teeth may become sensitive, a side effect that usually goes away after the bleaching period is over. If your gums become irritated, talk with your dentist.
Whitening Toothpaste or Mouth Rinse: Some toothpastes and mouth rinses help whiten teeth. Read the label to make sure you use these products correctly. Some people develop sensitive teeth if they use whitening toothpastes.
Professional Tooth Whitening: If you have your teeth bleached at a dentist's office, it may take one or more visits. The dentist will put a protective gel or rubber shield on your gums and then apply a bleaching agent to your teeth. Sometimes lasers or lights are used to enhance the whitening process.
Remember, proper tooth care can help keep your teeth bright. So eat, drink, and be merry -- and brush your teeth regularly.