A bright, white smile is one of the things we most strongly associate with health and beauty. While a great smile is highly prized, it is hard to get and hard to maintain. Very few people have teeth that are naturally white so teeth bleaching and other methods of professional teeth whitening have become very popular. The results of teeth whiting can transform your appearance but keeping your teeth bright white requires good dental hygiene practices and avoiding foods and drinks that can stain your teeth. The following foods are some of the worst offenders and should be avoided if possible.
Red Wine: Although red wine may offer benefits to your overall health, it does not do much good for your teeth. The red color found in grapes is notorious for staining clothing and does the same thing to your teeth. To minimize the staining effect on your teeth, thoroughly rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth after drinking red wine.
Black Coffee: As one of the most popular drinks in the world, untold millions of cups are consumed every day. Less popular is the beige teeth that can be caused by the dark pigment that gives coffee its distinct color. If you drink coffee, diluting the dark liquid with milk will reduce the staining risk. As with red wine, rinsing or brushing after drinking coffee will minimize the staining effect.
Dark-Colored Soft Drinks: The tooth decay associated with the high sugar and acid content of sodas is reason enough to avoid those drinks. When you add the teeth staining effect of dark-colored soft drinks, the case for abstaining from soft drinks becomes even stronger. If you must indulge, choose a light colored soda, like 7-Up or Sprite, and use a straw to minimize the drink’s contact with your teeth.
Berry Juice: Like other dark-colored drinks, berry juice, such as red grape juice and cranberry juice, can stain your teeth. If you drink juices, choose lighter colored juices like white grape juice or apple juice. And remember, juices have high sugar content so it is important to brush your teeth after drinking them.
Frozen Treats: Nothing is quite as refreshing as a frozen treat on a hot summer day, but colored ice pops can be very bad for teeth. As kids we all loved to eat the blue ice pop and show off the blue lips and tongue it created. The same pigments that color the tongue can also stain your teeth. Like sodas, frozen treats should be avoided entirely or, if that is not possible, consumed only occasionally. If you must, pick a light colored frozen treat.
Tomato Sauce: Rich in vitamins and flavor, tomato sauce is also rich in teeth staining red pigment. Everyone has experienced the staining power of even the smallest drop of tomato sauce on a shirt or sweater. Tomato sauce can do the same thing to your teeth. If you are like most people and lack the will power to eliminate tomato sauce from your diet, you should always rinse you mouth with water or brush your teeth after eating tomato sauce.
Soy Sauce: The foods of Asia are more popular than ever in America. Many Asian cuisines are attractive because they offer a healthy mix of vegetables and low fat cooking methods. But even the healthiest Asian foods can stain your teeth if they contain too much say sauce. While Asian food would not be the same without soy sauce, limit the amount of soy sauce you use on your food and skip the heavy soy sauce dips.
Berries: Dark colored berries, like blueberries and raspberries, are delicious and good for your diet. They are full of healthy antioxidants and other essential vitamins and minerals that lead to better health but they are also full of pigments that can lead to stained teeth. To avoid staining, you brush your teeth after eating dark-colored berries.
This list of tooth staining foods is not meant to be alarming and should not be taken as a call to stop eating your favorite foods. When eaten in moderation and with proper post meal dental hygiene, you can continue to enjoy your favorites and keep a bright, white smile.
By: Dr. Trinh Pham