It can seem like no food is safe for your teeth. Too often I hear stories of people drinking tea instead of coffee or eating fresh berries instead of pie, only to realize that almost everything you eat erodes enamel or stains your teeth and sacrifices your beautiful smile. While it’s hard to cover every tooth-staining culprit out there, a good rule of thumb is that foods that stain a white tablecloth will probably also stain your teeth. Fortunately, I’ve put together a list of some common staining culprits and ways to fight their effects.
Many people make the switch from coffee to tea, known for its antioxidants and low caffeine levels, in an effort to be a little healthier. While it’s those small, simple steps that can make a big difference, tea is no angel to your teeth. Even lighter teas, like herbal and white teas, have a staining effect and can wear away your enamel.
Fight back: Swish water around in your mouth after drinking tea and coffee to lessen the effects of staining. You can also add a little milk to coffee and black tea to lighten the color and effect on your teeth.
As delicious as they are, colorful sauces like tomato and soy stick to your teeth, turning your pearly whites dull.
Fight back: In this case again, a rinse with water immediately after eating will do wonders for your smile.
Unfortunately, just avoiding certain colors won’t save you here. It’s the acid in these drinks that wears away your precious enamel and exposes your teeth to stains from other foods.
Fight back: Drink water with a performance powder during your workouts to get the necessary fluids and electrolytes.
It’s no surprise that red wine does a number on your teeth, gums and lips. Switching to white wine won’t save you, though. Because both are acidic, they make your teeth vulnerable to stains in the same way sports drinks do.
Fight back: Rinse with water. If you’re at a party and can’t afford to carry two glasses around, consider munching on some celery sticks instead.
Fruits and Berries
Just like with wine and tea, even lighter colored fruits can wear away your enamel.
Fight back: Rinse with water and wait about an hour before brushing.
Soda and Other Carbonated Drinks
Not only can that lovely caramel color stain your teeth, but the heavily acidic drinks will also wear away your enamel, one bubbly sip at a time. Soda is probably the worst offender for a drink, as its low pH and the acid of the carbonation causes demineralization of the teeth.
Fight back: It’s wise to cut soda out of your diet completely, but if you can’t quite say goodbye to your bubbly beverage, rinse, floss and brush to counter its effects on your teeth. Wait about an hour to brush since the acid makes your teeth extra sensitive and brushing will scrape away your enamel. A fluoride rinse and toothpaste with baking soda to raise the pH in the mouth can both boost protection.
An expert once said, “If your tongue turns a funny color [from sweets], there’s a good chance your teeth will too.” We all know sugar is your teeth’s worst enemy, so maybe cut back on the caramel chews, yeah?
Fight back: If you can’t resist a little sugar fix once in a while, make sure to rinse with water, chew sugarless gum or brush after eating if you can.
As you can tell, water is a key component to keeping your mouth healthy. Consider replacing your daily soda with water and remember to swish a bit of water around in your mouth after eating or drinking anything. You can also use a straw to keep coffee, tea and soda from staining your teeth. Remember not to brush too soon after eating or drinking acidic foods since you risk wearing away your enamel.