Your dentist always tells you that the best way to keep your teeth healthy is to maintain a balanced lifestyle, stop smoking, reduce the quantity of sugary foods you eat, floss regularly and wash your teeth at least two times a day. And he/she’s completely right. But healthy teeth are not necessarily white teeth. And while we all care about oral health, we tend to care even more about our smile. Your teeth might genetically be whiter or have a more yellowish shade, but nevertheless there are ways to make them look better… or worse.
Your teeth are constantly exposed to foods and drinks that can stain them. Dentists like to say that if a type of food or beverage stains your clothes, it will also stain the tooth enamel. And these foods and drinks usually have one or more of these four characteristics: they contain chromogens (colored chemical compounds that stick to the enamel), they are acidic (they temporarily soften the enamel, which allows the chromogens to stick easier), they are usually consumed at high or low temperatures (and this can cause micro fissures in the enamel, to which the colored pigments can attach with ease) and/or they contain tannins. Tannins also help the pigments stick to the enamel by demineralizing it and making it more porous and more adherent.
Another important thing that you should take into consideration, before we go on with listing the foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, is that while some of these foods are unhealthy and you should avoid them altogether, others are great for your health, so you should keep them in your diet. Just avoid eating or drinking them at very low or high temperatures and wash your teeth immediately after you’ve consumed them to remove any color pigments from the enamel.
So here is the top 10 of the foods that have the highest potential to stain your teeth:
You might not want to hear that, but coffee does indeed stain the teeth. That because it contains dark color pigments that stick easily to the enamel due to the acidity of this drink, but also to the fact that it is usually drunk hot.
Black tea, in particular, warn dentists, can stain the teeth even more than coffee due to the fact that it is packed with tannins.
Energy drinks and sport drinks
These are very acidic and usually colored with artificial food dyes, so they can easily stain the teeth.
Soda and especially the colored varieties, is one of the main culprit for teeth stains because it is highly acidic and rich in color pigments. Soda usually contains compounds that are harmful to the enamel and cause corrosion. More than that, they contain high quantities of sugar, which can cause tooth decay.
It’s delicious, but it can also stain your teeth! Balsamic vinegar contains dark pigments that stick easily to the enamel due to the fact that this product is highly acidic and rich in sugar.
From the same category as balsamic vinegar, soy sauce should be consumed with caution, as it is sugary, sticky and rich in dark pigments that can stain the teeth.
If you ever tried to peel a beetroot, you know that it cannot be done without staining your hands and every other object it gets in contact with. Unfortunately, the same happens to your teeth, especially if you eat it with lemon juice or other acidic foods.
Red wine has three of the four characteristics of teeth-staining foods and beverages of which we talked about at the beginning of this article – it contains chromogens, it contains tannins and it is acidic. Even white wine can stain your teeth, so be careful when and how you drink it.
Ketchup and tomato sauces
Tomatoes are very acidic and rich in color pigments. In ketchup and tomato sauce, these are even more concentrated, increasing the risk of teeth staining.
Candies and other colorful sweets
Artificial food dyes stick very easily to the porous areas of the teeth. The rule you should guide yourself by is quite simple: if something stains your tongue, it will most likely stain your teeth as well.