We’ve all heard it from our dentists: if you want to reduce staining to your teeth, cut back on soda, coffee, and sweets. The sugar and acid in these popular drinks and snacks are common culprits for brown and yellow stains on the surface of your teeth, and may increase your risk of tooth decay. However, there are a handful of other edibles that may stain your teeth just as much – if not more – than the commonly accepted culprits. Test your Tooth Stain IQ, and discover a few ways to prevent tooth staining so that you can still enjoy the foods you love.
The health benefits of tea are manifold, but it’s not so great for your teeth. Some varieties of tea, especially black teas like English Breakfast and Earl Grey, can cause more staining than coffee. But even white teas or herbal teas without caffeine can wear down your tooth enamel, which can make your teeth more vulnerable to stains.
Wine is another classic culprit of stained teeth. Red wine, the darker and richer, can stain your teeth significantly (along with your clothes, your linens, and your carpet). However, its cousin white wine is actually more acidic, and can wear down your enamel and stain your teeth as well. If you’re drinking a lot of white wine in hopes of avoiding the dark stains of red wine, you may consider switching it up more frequently.
Unfortunately, avoiding tea and wine isn’t a guarantee that your teeth will remain stain-free. Dark sauces like tomato sauce, soy sauce, or even teriyaki, can cause stains on the surface of your teeth. If you’re concerned about eating a significant amount of marinara, try switching to a cream sauce of a lighter color to reduce tooth staining.
If none of these staining foods have surprised you so far, here’s a curve ball; fruits, especially dark berries, can stain your teeth just as much as wine and tea. Fresh from the vine, frozen, or even baked in a pie, fruits like blueberries, blackberries, and pomegranates can stain your teeth, but lighter fruits tend to carry more acid, which can weaken enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to staining.
Here’s one that goes hand-in-hand with soda and other carbonated drinks. The sugar, acid, dye, and other chemicals found in sodas and sports drinks can significantly damage your tooth enamel and leave your teeth badly stained. Even light-colored sodas and sports drinks, like 7-Up or Gatorade, carry acids and sugars that eat away at the surface of your teeth.
How to Prevent Tooth Stains
No doctor will ever tell you to stop eating fruit or putting sauce on your pasta, but a few changes can be made that will lessen the effects of enamel damage and tooth staining.
- Cut back on unnecessary food items like candy, soda, and sports drinks, and opt for water when possible.
- Use a straw when consuming beverages like soda, fruit juice, and tea. This can allow the liquid to bypass your teeth, preventing stain damage.
- Rinse, then brush. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually more damaging to your teeth to brush right after consuming something acidic. Instead, rinse out your mouth with water – washing away the remaining acid left over from your drink or snack – and then wait at least a half hour before brushing your teeth.
- Chew gum if you can’t brush your teeth after eating. Sugarless gum can pull staining agents off of your teeth from foods you’ve recently consumed, and can make you breath better, too!