If you are like most people, you want a beautiful smile. The truth is to have an attractive smile requires your investment, from great dental hygiene at home to regular dental cleanings and health check-ups with your dentist. While dental hygiene and cleaning deliver a great foundation for healthy, beautiful teeth, knowing what to eat and drink and what to avoid can help prevent staining of the teeth, thus keeping them whiter longer. Let’s begin with an exploration into the foods and beverages which can cause teeth stains, and then discover the foods and drinks that can actually help your smile.
You likely already know that some foods and beverages can cause your teeth to become stained over time. Since nearly one-fourth of all adults experience anxiety related to their smile and its appearance, it is no surprise cosmetic dental procedures for whitening teeth are on the rise.
Your teeth can become discolored for a number of reasons. Age-related staining occurs when, as you age, your enamel erodes, thinning and exposing portions of the dentin beneath it, which is naturally yellow. Your teeth can also experience discoloration due to an injury or trauma, as well as if you received an excess of fluoride when you were a child. Of course, the most common type of staining is staining of your tooth enamel which occurs as a result of smoking or ingesting stain-causing foods and beverages.
Coffee – You probably won’t be surprised that coffee is on the list. Coffee is designed to keep you coming back for more, which can stain your teeth. Because your teeth are porous, brushing after each cup of coffee can help you avoid permanent staining from your morning cup of coffee or two. Black coffee is the worst culprit, discoloring your teeth to a greater degree than if you add milk or creamer to your favorite blend.
Tea – Tea is filled with tannins, theaflavins, and thearubigins, all of which contribute to the discoloration of your teeth. The stronger your tea, the greater the chance for staining. Plus, while green tea offers a number of health benefits, it contains more tannins, which means more discoloration, so always brush, or at least rinse, after drinking a cup of tea.
Wine – Red and white wine can stain your teeth due to the acid they contain. While you might imagine otherwise, white wine is more acidic than red. Acid can damage the calcium and phosphate in teeth, causing thinner enamel and increasing the chance of sensitivity as well as the risk of tooth decay.
Carbonated Beverages – Whatever you call them – soda, pop, cola – they have lots of sugar which is well-known for breaking down your tooth enamel. In addition, if you prefer the darker-hued sodas, that caramel coloring contributes to the staining of your teeth. On top of that, sodas, like wine, also contain acid, which can further damage your tooth enamel.
Now, let’s take a look at the stain-causing foods.
Candy – Think about it, most candy is sugar and artificial coloring. The sugar adheres to teeth, resulting in damage to the enamel, while the artificial coloring sticks to teeth, causing hard to remove stains. Plus, sugar causes an increase of acid in your mouth, another cause of tooth damage and discoloration.
Tomato Sauce – Unruprisingly, tomato sauces can stain your teeth. While you don’t want to avoid tomatoes altogether due to the wealth of nutrients they provide, consider adding a salad as your first course when consuming tomato sauce-based entrees, which can help protect your teeth.
Berries – Another healthful food, filled with antioxidants and vitamins. You don’t want to avoid berries completely, though they do have the potential to stain your teeth. Try mixing your berries with yogurt or adding them to a smoothie to reduce the chance of staining. If you enjoy a handful of your favorite – cherries, blueberries, or blackberries – brushing and rinsing after can help you avoid unwanted stains.
Citrus Fruits – Again, citrus fruits are nutrient-packed, but the acid within can make teeth sensitive and weaken enamel resulting in stains.
There are ways you can protect your teeth from staining without giving up your favorites on this list. Rinse after eating or drinking if you can’t brush your teeth right away. If you consume acidic food or beverage, don’t wait an hour before brushing. And brushing after every meal is a great way to avoid stains. When drinking darker liquids, using a straw can help prevent stains from adhering to your teeth. Of course, cutting out sodas and candy will not only help you avoid tooth discoloration but also help you improve your overall health.
While avoiding or limiting stain-causing foods and beverages, you can add more foods that are good for your teeth. Let’s uncover the foods and beverages which can help you maintain your teeth and gums.
Dairy Products – Cheese and yogurt are excellent sources of protein and calcium, plus they both are packed with good bacteria which can help strengthen tooth enamel and fight against tooth decay. Cheese contains casein, which reduces mineral loss in tooth enamel. In addition, cheese actually increases the Ph level in your mouth, preventing the growth of bacteria.
Leafy Greens – Filled with vitamins and minerals, leafy greens, like kale and spinach actually strengthen tooth enamel due to high levels of calcium and folic acid (a B vitamin). You can easily add these to your eating plan in salads, on pizza, or in a smoothie.
Fruits – Fruits are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without ingesting processed sugar. Apples are a great choice, filled with fiber and water, which washes away bacteria that causes plaque, and keeps your gums healthy and your teeth white. Strawberries are high in Vitamin C which removes plaque as well as malic acid, a natural bleaching agent which keeps teeth white. Pineapple is another great choice due to the enzyme bromelain which removes plaque, prevents decay and enamel erosion, and naturally removes stains giving you whiter teeth.
Vegetables – In addition to leafy greens, there are other veggies that can help your teeth. Crunchy vegetables are excellent choices for removing food and bacteria from your teeth. Try carrots which are full of vitamin A and fiber, and can prevent the buildup of plaque as well as wash away bacteria. Celery is another great option, filled with antioxidants to keep gums healthy. Plus celery is fibrous and packed with water, the ideal combination for removing bacteria and encouraging greater saliva production. High in fiber and iron, broccoli reduces inflammation and protects your teeth.
If you want to learn more about teeth whitening procedures, how to protect your teeth from staining and discoloration, improve your smile, and keep it looking its best, call Dr. Mal Braverman and the team at New York City Cosmetic Dentistry Center. Your initial consultation is FREE and includes a complete evaluation regarding your cosmetic dental concerns.