Stained teeth 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, 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. Some of your favorites may be on this list:
- Red and white wine
- Grape or cranberry juice
- Soy sauce
- Tomato sauce
You can still enjoy these foods, but it's a good idea to brush or rinse your mouth thoroughly afterwards.
Foods That Prevent Tooth Stains
Surprise! Some common fruits and vegetables scrub your teeth gently while you chew them. They also help you make saliva, which counteracts 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. Brush twice daily, floss, and use an antibacterial mouth rinse twice a day -- that will help you fight plaque, making your teeth less likely to stain.
Get your teeth professionally cleaned. At least twice a year, go to 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 seeing 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 outer surface of your teeth, called enamel. Read the label and 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. Follow the instructions on the label. 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. They may use lasers or lights to enhance the whitening process.
Proper tooth care can help keep your teeth bright. So eat, drink, be merry -- and brush your teeth regularly.