Everyone knows that certain foods or products can be detrimental to the brightness of your smile if taken regularly; coffee, chewing tobacco, and cigarettes all cause stains which, over time, can give teeth a yellowed or even brown appearance. But did you know that other foods contain either natural or synthetic coloring called chromogens that can latch on to dental enamel and cause stains? To keep your smile looking its whitest, the doctors at Infinite Dental Wellness recommend avoiding these potentially damaging foods:
1. Sauces Like Soy Sauce & Tomato Sauce. Any food with a dark pigment, like soy sauce, can adhere to your teeth and cause stains, while red tomato sauces like marinara are made with highly acidic tomatoes which can soften enamel and give chromogens a foothold in your pearly whites. To prevent the detrimental effects of these delicious-yet-damaging sauces, try swishing some water around your mouth between bites, or give your teeth a protective layer by eating a spinach salad before your meal.
2. Black Tea. Though the positive health effects of drinking tea are well-documented, the stain-promoting tannins in black teas – along with other dark-hued teas – can yellow teeth the same way coffee can. (Some dentists say tea may be even worse for your teeth than coffee!) To prevent this otherwise healthy beverage from ruining your smile, try adding milk to dark teas or drinking only green, white, and herbal teas. Another way to keep liquids from coming in contact with teeth is by drinking through a straw, though this might be difficult if you like your tea piping hot!
3. Berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, and other darkly-colored fruits can stain teeth by delivering a doubly-whammy to your luminous smile: not only are the juices from these foods packed with discoloration-causing chromogens, but the acid in these berries (acidity levels can be measured by how tart a food is; strawberries have a relatively low acidity, for example, while lemons have extremely high acid levels) can quickly deteriorate your teeth’s protective enamel, allowing stain-causing juices to set in. For a more tooth-friendly snack, try gnoshing on light-colored grapes instead of dark berries, and always brush and floss after eating highly acidic foods.
4. Grape Products. Just like berries, the combination of acid and chromogens found in grape products like wine (both red and white) and balsamic vinegar can cause teeth to look yellow over time. If you must drink wine, try following up sips with small amounts of water to wash away the beverage’s harmful remnants, and leafy greens can serve as a protective barrier when eating salads drenched in balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
5. Sweets Like Hard Candy and Popsicles. Ever notice the color of your tongue after eating a popsicle, sucker, or Jolly Rancher? Unfortunately, the dyes that make your favorite sweet treats aesthetically appealing may be wreaking havoc on your beautiful smile as well. To combat the damaging effects of your favorite candies, try chewing and swallowing quickly to avoid prolonged contact with your precious enamel, and always brush or rinse with water afterward. For those with a sweet tooth, there is some good news: Unless they are consumed regularly, colorfully-dyed foods probably play only a minor role in staining one’s teeth.