You brush your teeth twice a day, schedule regular cleanings with your dentist, and floss (almost) every day. So your smile should stay white and dazzling, right?
Not so fast. There are actually plenty of common foods and everyday habits that might be secretly staining your teeth. Here are some of the worst offenders.
Coffee is a common cause of yellowing teeth.
You probably knew this one was coming. Coffee contains tannins that can leave your teeth discolored, according to Healthline. Tannin is actually the same substance that’s used in tanning leather and making ink.
Furthermore, coffee is also acidic and can alter the pH in your mouth. This can weaken your enamel, which is the thin and translucent outer shell that covers your teeth and protects them from damage. It’s the hardest tissue in the human body, but enamel isn’t impervious to the effects of acidic food and drinks. Once this part of your teeth is damaged, it’s more vulnerable to staining.
Tea might also be a culprit if you have a stained smile.
Many people opt for tea over coffee to reap its numerous reported health benefits. If you’re a tea fan, the news that this beverage can actually cause more tooth staining than a cup of joe might not be very welcome.
“Despite the fact that your dark roast may appear to have more colour than say, black tea, through naturally occurring tannins and processes such as oxidation, teas can really take to teeth, potentially leaving you stained or splotchy,” according to Jefferson Dental Care.
Tomato sauce is highly staining.
That mammoth serving of spaghetti and meatballs definitely looks good on your plate, but it might not look so good on your teeth.
As aesthetic dentist Dr. Michael Apa explained to GQ, tomato sauce “contains a highly pigmented colour and is acidic as well. Acidic foods can weaken the enamel layer of your tooth which can make it more porous and in turn more susceptible to stains.”
Though there’s nothing wrong with tomato sauce now and then, eating it every day could leave you with some tooth discoloration. Keep the worst at bay by taking sips of water between bites to prevent the sauce from lingering too long on your teeth.
Balsamic vinegar is a sneaky source of discoloration.
Balsamic vinegar is an intensely flavorful condiment made from concentrated grape must, a.k.a. juice. It’s also a sneaky source of stains due to its sticky consistency and dark pigments, according to Arizona Family Dental.
Beetroots can steal your smile’s whiteness.
Beetroots are healthy and delicious additions to a salad or roasted vegetable meal, but they’re not very smile-friendly.
“In the same way beetroot stains your hands and chopping board, it can affect the whiteness of teeth, as it’s deeply coloured,” dentist Dr. Luke Thorley noted to Cosmopolitan.
If you want to keep your teeth as white as possible, snacking on beetroots every day isn’t the way to go.
Eating lots of berries might leave you with tooth stains.
Berries are healthy and delicious, but they might also be dimming your smile.
“The deep hue in blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries, in particular, can cause staining, regardless of whether they are eaten whole, drunk as juice or processed as jelly and jam,” according to Colgate.
To prevent staining, Colgate recommended not letting the berries sit in your mouth for too long and enjoying a bit of hard cheese or milk afterwards, as these foods neutralise acids.
The pigments in curry could permanently affect your teeth.
Sad news for curry fans: this classic Indian spice actually has the potential to discolor your teeth.
“Its deep pigmentation can yellow teeth over time,” according to Colgate.
To minimise the damage, Colgate advised eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with any curry dish to keep the curry from sitting too long on your teeth.
Sports drinks have the potential to discolor your smile.
Many of us think nothing of gulping down a neon-hued sports drink after a long gym session. Unfortunately, you might be better off getting your electrolytes another way.
Sports drinks can also contain high amounts of sugar, a feature which might not align with your health goals.
The acids in soda are awful for your dental health.
You probably know that drinking soda is bad for your health. But just in case you needed another reason to cut back, it turns out that soda is one of the worst things you can drink if you want a white smile.
Soda’s high sugar content also creates a perfect breeding ground for tooth-munching bacteria, leading to cavities and tooth decay. Make the switch to water to save your pearly whites.
Fruit juice can leave your teeth vulnerable to stains.
Back away from that glass of cherry juice if you want to keep your teeth as white as possible.
“Fruit juice is slightly acidic, causing the teeth to become more susceptible to staining. Fruit juices also contain sugar which can feed bacteria, causing cavities while staining your teeth,” Dr. Apa explained to GQ.
Though one serving of fruit juice won’t leave you with a permanently stained set of teeth, water is the safest bet when it comes to staying hydrated and preserving your smile.
Eating too many frozen treats can stain more than just your tongue.
According to Westland Dental Care, any brightly coloured candy like lollipops or frozen treats that stain your tongue might also being do the same to your teeth.
Happily, unless you’re making colourful sugary treats a part of your daily diet, the dyes in these foods probably won’t have much of a long-term effect on your teeth. The same can’t be said for all that sugar, however.
Wine is a well-known tooth staining substance.
Anyone who has ever tried to mop up a spilled glass of red wine from a white carpet knows that vino has serious staying power. However, you might not have realised that white wine is also a staining hazard.
“It’s no surprise that red wine, an acidic drink known for its dark, rich colour, will discolor teeth. But white wine, which has even more acid, also can,” cautioned WebMD.
The acid in white wine can soften enamel and make it more susceptible to staining from other foods. That’s definitely something to keep in mind the next time you’re enjoying a bottle.
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