Let’s face it, the motivation for good dental care has become just as much of a product of people wanting their teeth to look good now a days as it is about keeping your teeth healthy, functional, and pain free. So what else can you do besides have proper daily dental hygiene or use a teeth whitener to keep those pearly whites white? Well, one of the best things you can do to keep your teeth looking good is avoiding the foods that will cause them to stain the most. Let’s look into the top 11 foods that will cause your teeth to stain the most.
- Tea – Although tea has a reputation as a healthy beverage, it may not be the best choice when it comes to keeping your teeth white. Dentists say tea, especially the basic black variety, can cause more stains than even coffee. However, recent studies have found that even herbal teas and white teas have the potential to erode enamel and cause tooth staining.
- Colored Sauces – They may be delicious, but deeply-colored sauces like soy sauce, tomato sauce, and curry sauce are also believed to have significant tooth staining potential. Consider lighter cream sauces for less damaging options and rinse or brush soon after eating to reduce the potential for stains.
- Sports Drinks – Acidic foods and drinks can also lead to tooth discoloration. Recent research finds that highly acidic drinks like sports or energy drinks can erode tooth enamel, setting the stage for staining. When exercising, limit the intake of these drinks. Water may be a better choice at least for your teeth.
- Wine – If a food or drink can stain a tablecloth, then it definitely has the potential to stain your teeth. Red wine, an acidic drink with intensely pigmented molecules called tannins and chromogens, is notorious for tooth discoloration. White wine is even more acidic and can lead to stains as well.
- Berries – Intensely pigmented molecules stick to dental enamel. That’s why blueberries, blackberries, cherries, pomegranates, and other vibrantly colored fruits can stain teeth. Juices and pies made from those fruits can also cause stains. Fruits with less pigmentation like white grapes and white cranberries are less likely to stain teeth. But these acidic substances can still harm enamel, so be sure to brush and floss.
- Soda and other Carbonated Drinks – The acid and chromogens in these drinks can lead to serious staining of your teeth. Even light colored sodas contain enough acid that they can encourage staining by other foods and drinks. The acidity in some carbonated drinks is so intense that it actually compares to the acidity in battery acid. Many of these beverages contain flavored additives that add to their erosive effects.
- Candy and other Sweets – If your favorite sweet like hard candy, chewing gum, or popsicles makes your tongue change colors, it may contain teeth-staining coloring agents. Fortunately, unless you eat those goodies often they probably won’t do much to stain your teeth but they most certainly will help erode them. So eat your sweets wisely.
What you can do about it
Now we realize that it’s basically impossible and probably not even completely healthy to just cut out all of these foods since many of them are an essential source of vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. But there are some things that you can do to still take these foods in while minimizing their staining impact on your teeth.
- Cut Back to Minimize Staining – You may not want to cut all teeth staining food and drinks out of your diet. Many of those foods and beverages like blueberries, blackberries, and tomato sauce are rich in antioxidants. You want these beneficial nutrients in your diet. So keep eating them, but in moderation or substitute other antioxidant sources such as cauliflower, apples, grapefruit, and melon.
- Use a Straw – Try using a straw to sip your favorite drinks like sodas, juices, and iced tea. This should keep teeth-staining drinks away from your front teeth and reduce your risk of unsightly stains.
- Swallow Faster – Don’t let stain-causing foods and drinks linger in your mouth for long. Instead, swallow them quickly to help protect your teeth from stains. To avoid choking, it’s still important to chew your food well before swallowing and be sure not to gulp.
- Rinse, then Brush after Eating – Swish your mouth with water right after eating a stain-causing food or drink. For about 30 minutes after you consume something acidic, the enamel on your teeth is especially at risk of abrasion from tooth brushing. So rinse, then brush well after every meal. If you can’t get to your toothbrush, chew a piece of sugarless gum as soon as you’ve eaten.
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