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    Foods and Habits That Stain Your Teeth

    Food Dye

    If you've ever sucked on a lollipop and found that your tongue and teeth turned blue, you've seen the effects. Dentists suggest that you avoid brightly colored candy, ice pops, and sweetened drinks. Colored sports drinks aren't safe, either. Chug any one shade too often, Wolff says, and don't be surprised if it shows up on your choppers.

    "Food coloring is a pretty aggressive coloring," Wolff says. "If you have exposed root surfaces, it loves that surface even more than white enamel.

    Soft Drinks; Hard Truths

    People who drink cola may notice their teeth turning yellow over time. That's because soda is very acidic, and dark cola contains chromogens.

    Clear-soda drinkers also may get duller teeth because lemon-lime flavors contain acids, which make teeth prone to stains from other foods.

    "It's like red wine vs. white wine," Wolff says. White wine makes your teeth easier to stain. So does clear soda. And all sodas have almost the same acid level whether they're dark, clear, regular, or diet.

    Lemonade, which is high in citric acid, can open the door to stains. "After that exposure, any color you put on it will make a stain," Wolff says.

    When Berries Bite Back

    Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are high in chromogens. You'll also find them in cherries and tomatoes. Grapes and pomegranates have them too along with tannins.

    A good rule of thumb: Fruit that would stain your clothes will do the same thing to your teeth.

    Tips to Keep Your Smile Bright

    You won't have to give up coffee, red wine, or blueberries if you add one or more of these habits to your regular routine:

    • Brush right away. After a bowl of cereal with berries, brush your teeth. If you drink coffee at work, keep a toothbrush in your desk to use after your final cup . Use paste with a little whitening agent, Cram says.
    • Rinse your mouth. Can't brush? Swish water around in your mouth after you eat or drink. "Even water is better than leaving all that material behind," Wolff says.
    • Use a straw. Straws pull liquids inside your mouth, so the drink bypasses your smile. "It's not going all over your teeth," Cram says. "It's going on the roof of your mouth."
    • See the dentist. Going for cleanings helps to smooth the fine cracks in tooth enamel where color gets trapped. "Keeping your teeth polished helps to reduce the amount of stains," Wolff says.

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    Reviewed on December 15, 2015

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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