You already know that sweets are bad for your teeth—but did you know that even some “healthy” foods can stain or even damage teeth?
A Brief Chemistry Lesson
In most cases, discoloration of teeth is the result of what are known as chromogens, which are chemical compounds in food that stick to your teeth. And some of those chromogens carry pigments called anthocyanins, which is what makes certain fruits blue, purple, or black. Tannins are bitter chemicals found in plants that turn teeth yellow and dull. These substances can wear out enamel over time, creating more than just a cosmetic problem.
What foods are guilty of staining teeth?
Ironically, many of the foods that can stain your teeth actually offer some health benefits, so you may want to limit your intake of them. Others are just plain bad for you. Here’s what to look out for:
- Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate all come from natural sources containing tannins. If you’re a heavy coffee-drinker, you already know what it can do to white teeth. Tea (iced or hot) actually has an even higher tannin content, so it’s even harder on your smile.
- Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and even strawberries, are high in anthocyanins, a term derived from the Greek cyan, meaning “dark blue.” These fruits contain a lot of enamel-damaging sugar, which is unfortunate since they’re so packed with vitamins and fiber!
- Wine is a guilty pleasure for our tastebuds, but red wines such as Merlots and Cabernets, as well pinot noirs, stain teeth. Even white wines like Chardonnay stick to enamel. And all alcoholic beverages have a high sugar content. By the same token, non-alcoholic grape juice is a villain, too.
- Sugary drinks—which also cause a multitude of other health problems—are perhaps the worst offenders, as the high fructose corn syrup in them eats away at enamel. Sorry–this goes for sports drinks as well.
- Acidic fruits do their damage on teeth by eroding enamel. Sadly, the list includes a lot of tasty things we consume on a regular basis, such as tomatoes, lemons, limes, oranges, pineapples, and even apples.
- Food dyes, even ones from natural sources such as beet juice, are big stainers. It’s easy to see how the bright reds, blues, pinks, oranges, and yellows can leave their calling card. Most candy is also full of sugar, adding insult to injury.
- Tobacco. Although not a food, nicotine in any of its forms—cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and even vaping—can seriously darken teeth. It’s a good idea to avoid tobacco altogether, as it leads to so many serious illnesses.
Preventive measures for tooth staining
If you’re discouraged by this list of forbidden goodies, don’t be. The healthier foods can be eaten in moderation, and there are things you can do to lessen their stain-causing potential. Here are a few suggestions:
- Regular brushing. The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day, preferably after meals, with either a manual or electric toothbrush. Special whitening toothpaste is available in many brands and is fortified with agents such as carbamide or hydrogen peroxide for maximum effectiveness.
- Use dental floss. Bacteria in between your teeth can lead to cavities and plaque build-up, and that can discolor teeth. Flossing helps protect your enamel by eliminating the residue left by staining foods and beverages.
- Rinse. Flushing out your mouth is a good way to protect your teeth’s natural color. A solution of warm water and salt, baking soda, or hydrogen peroxide will help keep your mouth feeling clean and fresh as well.
- Over-the-counter whitening strips. Strips pack a little more whitening oomph! than brushing alone, and require only a few minutes a day. Be patient, though, because they do take a while to work.
- A visit to a dentist’s office. Home treatments go only so far in delivering the pearly whites that you desire. Your dentist or hygienist can offer deep cleaning and whitening procedures that will last for several months. Also, getting a routine cleaning on a regular basis will help keep your mouth healthy and your teeth white.
The Help You Need—At The Dental District
Whether it’s just a regular cleaning or a whitening, or if you need more serious dental work, The Dental District is here to help. We can also fit your teeth with veneers—porcelain coverings to hide severely discolored or damaged teeth—to enhance your appearance more than you could ever do at home.
The Dental District is a dental clinic in Tijuana with a recognized professional dentist in Tijuana to help you with fillings, braces, root canal in Mexico, dental veneers in Tijuana, bridges, caps, dental bone graft Mexico, dental implants in Mexico or all on 4 Mexico, or whatever you need. And we can do it for a much lower cost than in the United States from our New City Medical Plaza medical building in Tijuana, conveniently just a few minutes drive from San Diego. Schedule your free appointment and let’s get started!