Due to the passage of time and some unhealthy habits, tooth enamel can lose its distinctive bright white color. Tooth stains are one of the common oral health concerns for most people. They are mainly caused by regularly consuming certain beverages and foods that can stain teeth.
While it may be challenging for most people to completely stop consuming foods that gradually darken teeth, understanding which foods cause the most damage to the white enamel can help in limiting their intake in the diet.
Let’s explore which foods are most likely to stain teeth, their consequences for dental health and aesthetics, and some recommendations from experts on how to maintain whiter teeth through dietary choices.
Which beverages and foods can stain teeth?
Identifying which foods have the greatest impact on the whiteness of your teeth is relatively simple. All you have to do is look for strongly colored foods and beverages, as these items tend to stain teeth and leave traces of natural pigments.
However, these are not the only examples. Foods and beverages that are rich in sugar, acid, and other substances harmful to tooth enamel can also unknowingly contribute to tooth discoloration. This includes the following.
Foods with a strong acidic taste may be very appealing to many, but they offer no benefits to teeth. Regular consumption of acidic foods can lead to demineralization of tooth enamel. Over time, enamel weakens and may discolor.
These foods include citrus fruits such as pineapples, kiwi, and red fruits. It doesn’t mean you have to eliminate them completely from your diet, but rather consume them in a balanced way and compensate for their intake with fruits lower in acidity, such as apples, peaches, or watermelon.
Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
Other fruits and a variety of vegetables contain a large amount of natural dyes, making them prone to staining teeth.
These products include cherries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and of course, beets. While these plant-derived products offer beneficial antioxidants to the body, it’s recommended to thoroughly remove residues by brushing your teeth after consumption.
Carbonated beverages, such as soft drinks, combine the effects of the two previous types of foods. On one hand, the gases in these drinks can cause demineralization of tooth enamel, leading to a gradual reduction in the protective layer over the years.
On the other hand, the abundant dyes in fizzy drinks will eventually enter the teeth, causing gradual discoloration. If we add the sugar found in most soft drinks, the risk of tooth decay and staining becomes even higher.
Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea are two fundamental beverages that many people consume regularly. They are also among the easiest drinks to stain teeth, with the degree of discoloration increasing with daily consumption.
Unfortunately, there are no alternative methods or remedies to prevent coffee from staining teeth. However, if you are a tea drinker and want to avoid natural staining of teeth, you can try replacing black tea with green tea, as green tea contains fewer tannins.
You may already know that red wine is another beverage that can stain teeth. However, white wine is not exempt.
Due to its high acidity and tannin content, both red and white wine can gradually damage and deepen tooth enamel if consumed excessively.
Sauces and Vinegar
In addition to these foods that stain teeth, some commonly consumed foods can directly affect tooth color. These include highly processed foods with dyes, such as candies or sauces like soy or tomato sauce.
Sherry vinegar has a strong color, especially Modena vinegar, with high acidity and sugar content. If you want a whiter smile, moderate consumption is recommended.
Can food stains on teeth be removed?
Once stains appear on the teeth due to the consumption of certain foods and beverages, there are various methods to remove them.
The mildest tooth stains can be removed by brushing. It is crucial to brush your teeth after every meal, using a suitable whitening toothpaste and flossing to clean the spaces between the teeth.
In addition to these options, professional dental cleaning or teeth whitening at a dental clinic can be performed to remove deeper stains.
- Which foods and beverages stain your teeth, and which are beneficial? – Introduction by the Official College of Dentists and Stomatologists of Valencia
- Dental Stains – Madrid Professional School of Dental Hygienists
- Forner L., et al. Therapeutic effectiveness of a new enzymatic bleaching dentifrice. Eur J Esthet Dent. Spring 2012; 7(1): 62-70.