Foods and Habits That Stain Your Teeth
If you want to keep your teeth white, check this list of foods and beverages that stain teeth.
The Top Teeth-Staining Foods and Beverages continued...
3. Cola. Acidic and chromogen-rich, cola can cause significant staining. But even light-colored soft drinks are sufficiently acidic to promote staining of teeth by other foods and beverages. “Carbonated beverages have similar acidity to battery acid,” Messina says, adding that cola-stained teeth are most common among “people who have a can on their desk all the time and sip all day long.”
4. Sports drinks. Recent research led by Wolff found that highly acidic sports drinks can soften tooth enamel -- setting the stage for staining.
5. Berries. Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, cherries, grapes, pomegranates, and other intensely colored fruits (and juices, pies, and other foods and beverages made from them) can cause stains.
6. Sauces. Soy sauce, tomato sauce, curry sauce, and other deeply colored sauces are believed to have significant staining potential.
7. Sweets. Hard candies, chewing gum, popsicles, and other sweets often contain teeth-staining coloring agents. If your tongue turns a funny color, dentists say, there’s a good chance that your teeth will be affected, too. But unless they are consumed regularly, these sweets probably play a minor role in teeth staining, says Maria Lopez Howell, DDS, a dentist in private practice in San Antonio.
Tips to Minimize Stained Teeth
Ironically, many of the foods and beverages that stain teeth are loaded with antioxidants, which, of course, have key health benefits. So if you’re worried about stained teeth, you might want to cut back on these foods and beverages rather than cut them out entirely. “Moderation and a balanced diet are key,” Howell says.
In addition, consider taking steps to minimize the contact between your teeth and stain-promoting substances. Dentists offer several suggestions:
Use a straw. Sipping beverages through a straw is believed to help keep teeth-staining beverages away from the teeth -- the front teeth, in particular. No, you’re probably not eager to use a straw for coffee or wine. But it shouldn’t be too much trouble to use a straw for cola, juices, and iced tea.
Swallow promptly. Swallowing stain-causing foods and beverages quickly is also believed to help protect teeth from stains. Obviously, it’s important to chew foods thoroughly before swallowing. And gulping can, of course, cause choking. But don’t retain things in your mouth for long periods of time. In other words, savor flavors -- but not for too long. “There’s no question that the quicker you drink something the lower the exposure [to stain-promoting substances],” says Debra Glassman, DDS, a dentist in private practice in New York City.
Swish with water. It’s not always convenient to brush your teeth after having something to eat or drink. Even when it is, it might be better not to: dental enamel is highly vulnerable to abrasion from tooth brushing for up to 30 minutes after the consumption of an acidic food or beverage. So it’s safer simply to swish with water -- and brush later, once the enamel has had a chance to re-harden. Another way to remove stain-causing substances without brushing, Howell says, is to chew sugarless gum after eating or drinking.