Let’s face it: most of us would prefer to have whiter, brighter smiles. Having yellow, gray, or otherwise discolored teeth can put a damper on your day and make you embarrassed of your grin. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to enjoy a full set of pearly whites. At our Houston dental practice, Dr. Craig Armstrong and our dedicated team are here to assist you with every aspect of your smile, including its appearance.
When it comes to the look of your smile, there may be factors you don’t have much control over, but there is one element you can absolutely take charge of, and that’s your diet. The American Dental Association explains that “food and drink” are one of the top reasons why “teeth change color,” since “intense color pigments called chromogens [can]…attach to the white, outer part of your tooth.” In the following blog, we’ll go over ten common foods that stain your teeth so you can avoid them for a dazzling smile.
Sipping a hot tea or enjoying an iced chai is wonderful, but these beverages can also wreak havoc on your tooth color. WebMD calls tea the “worst culprit” for staining: “not only is it full of acid, it also has tannins…plant-based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to teeth.” Next time you snuggle up with a cup of tea, consider switching it out for another drink. If you do drink tea, make sure to rinse your mouth out with plenty of water and brush your teeth soon after.
They’re great in both salads and sauces, but tomatoes can definitely discolor your previously pearly whites. With their strong red hue and enamel-eroding acidity, it’s best to avoid these if you can.
Limes, lemons, and oranges might be surprising causes for staining, since they’re not particularly dark foods. However, as Greatist explains: “if you notice a yellowish tinge to your teeth, acidic foods…might be to blame. Even though they’re nutrient-packed, these colorful eats can erode the enamel, which might expose the yellow-hued dentin—a.k.a. the tissue beneath the enamel.” If you’re snacking on orange slices daily or frequently drinking lemon water, cutting down on these habits could work wonders for your teeth.
Fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries are some of the clearest culprits for external teeth staining. While delicious and otherwise healthy, these fruits pack a colorful punch. Their beautiful hues look great in a bowl, but aren’t quite as attractive when wedged in-between your teeth. In particular, you should avoid berry juices and jams, since these tend to be denser and are often sweetened with sugar, which can cause additional enamel problems.
While coffee is actually not as harmful as tea, since it doesn’t have tannins, it can also stain your teeth. WebMD notes: “you can tell from [coffee’s] color that it’s high in chromogens, and it’s very acidic. Together, these factors help turn white teeth yellow over time.” If you’re downing a daily cup of coffee, be sure to follow it with a quick water rinse and/or brushing your teeth, similar to tea, to avoid staining.
You probably could have guessed that red wines would stain your teeth, but in fact, white wines can also lead to discoloration. Like tea, red wine is packed with tannins, so it is among the worst options for your teeth, but “as it turns out, sipping sauvignon blanc can also steal some of the white away from your smile,” according to Greatist. While white wine doesn’t directly stain your teeth, it “may make tooth stains darker…its acid content creates little pockets on the surface of the tooth that allow other beverages to seep in deeper.” So, drink your wine in moderation, and don’t think you’re safe from staining just because you prefer white wines.
Sodas like Coke and Dr. Pepper can be refreshing treats, but they may also linger on your teeth. Everyday Health explains: “Sodas, including diet, are especially harmful to teeth because of their staining color.” Most colas are also acidic, making your teeth more vulnerable. Everyday Health advises: “if you can’t give up your soda habit, at least sip it through a straw to limit the beverage’s contact with your teeth.”
Curries can be tasty, savory meals, but their rich color can also transfer to your smile. If you’re a regular curry-eater and you notice your teeth turning yellow, the spices in your favorite dish could be to blame. Try to eat curry dishes sparingly and, when you do, make sure to drink plenty of water with them.
With summer just around the corner, popsicles are bound to be a popular refreshment. These icy cold sweet treats are scrumptious, but they’re also some of the worst possible foods to eat if you want to keep your smile white. Everyday Health points out: “if a food stains your lips and tongue, it’s staining your teeth, too,” and we’re all familiar with the purple lips and blue tongues that result from the artificial dyes in our favorite pops. Everyday Health suggests that, if you need a summertime snack, “choose a lemon ice instead.”
Balsamic vinegar is great for salad dressings and sauces, but enjoying its distinctive flavor and dark color could damage your teeth. Like wine, balsamic is filled with tannins, so it should be used in moderation.
At your six-month cleaning and prevention appointments, Dr. Armstrong and our team can go over your specific cosmetic concerns and make more suggestions for how you can preserve your teeth. If you’re ready to be rid of those pesky stains and enjoy a brighter look, we also offer professional teeth-whitening treatments. We offer both in-office and at-home options to suit your needs and preferences.
We’d be delighted to help you! Contact our Houston dental practice today to learn more and schedule your appointment with Dr. Armstrong.