3 Simple Tips to Minimize the Impact of Teeth-Staining Foods

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If you value keeping your smile bright and white, then it’s critical to understand how to minimize the teeth-staining impact of seven key foods and beverages. In this blog, we’ve got a set of simple tips you can use to fight for your smile.

What food are most likely to stain your teeth? It’s pretty simple, really. If the food or beverage is intensely colored (i.e. reds and blacks and purples) then your bright whites will be challenged to not become stained.

There are three main reasons why these types of foods and beverages are so tough on white teeth. Chromogens are the first culprit – they are intensely pigmented molecules that likes to stick to dental enamel. The second culprit is acid, which erodes the dental enamel and promotes staining. It’s contained in a lot of the top 7 teeth-staining foods and beverages. The final culprit is tannins, a family of food compounds that boost chromogens’ enamel-attaching ability.

The Terrible 7 (For Your Teeth)

  1. Wines – especially red. Red wine, an acidic beverage that contains chromogens and tannins, is notorious for staining teeth. But white wine, too, promotes staining. In fact, a research study found that teeth exposed to tea were stained more severely if they previously had been exposed to white wine.
  2. Black teas. The ordinary black tea most people drink is rich in stain-promoting tannins. It’s actually a bigger stainer than coffee, which is chromogen-rich but low in tannins. Herbal, green, and white teas are less likely to stain than black tea.
  3. Sodas. Acidic and chromogen-rich, dark sodas like cola can cause significant staining. But even light-colored soft drinks are sufficiently acidic to promote staining of teeth by other foods and beverages. According to leading experts, carbonated beverages have similar acidity to battery acid.
  4. Sports drinks. Research has found that highly acidic sports drinks can soften tooth enamel -- setting the stage for staining.
  5. Dark sauces. Soy sauce, tomato sauce, curry sauce, and other deeply colored sauces are believed to have significant staining potential.
  6. Most berries. Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, cherries, grapes, pomegranates, and other intensely colored fruits (and juices, pies, and other foods and beverages made from them) can cause stains.
  7. Candy and sweets. Hard candies, chewing gum, popsicles, and other sweets often contain teeth-staining coloring agents. If your tongue turns a funny color, there’s a good chance that your teeth will be affected, too.

The Terrific Three

Following the Terrific Three tips will allow you to reduce the impact the Terrible 7 have on your teeth without having to give up these items if you enjoy them. Plus, many of the foods and beverages that stain teeth are loaded with antioxidants, which, of course, have key health benefits. So if you’re worried about stained teeth, you might want to cut back on these foods and beverages rather than cut them out entirely. Here are several suggestions:

Use a straw. Sipping beverages through a straw is believed to help keep teeth-staining beverages away from the teeth -- the front teeth, in particular. No, you’re probably not eager to use a straw for coffee or wine. But it shouldn’t be too much trouble to use a straw for cola, juices, and iced tea.

Swallow promptly. Swallowing stain-causing foods and beverages quickly is also believed to help protect teeth from stains. Obviously, don’t gulp and be sure to chew your food and savor flavors -- but not for too long.

Swish with water. It’s not always convenient to brush your teeth after having something to eat or drink. Even when it is, it might be better not to: dental enamel is highly vulnerable to abrasion from tooth brushing for up to 30 minutes after the consumption of an acidic food or beverage. So it’s safer simply to swish with water -- and brush later, once the enamel has had a chance to re-harden.

And don’t forget the importance of brushing and flossing daily and be sure to see a dentist periodically -- and to avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. These long-term strategies, combined with the simple tips we’ve mentioned, should keep you smiling for years to come.

Source: WebMD and Personal Care Dentistry

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