You are what you eat, and that goes for more than just your body. Teeth take a toll when you consume the wrong foods and drinks, allowing cavities, gingivitis and staining to take over. Even when you brush three times a day, floss, rinse with mouthwash and invest in a tongue scraper, too much of certain foods can stick around and leave unwanted — and expensive — footprints on your teeth.
As you may imagine, one of the primary indications that something stains teeth is intensity of the color. “If it can stain a white tablecloth, it will stain your teeth” is a common rule of thumb when determining staining abilities. The deep color of these foods comes from the intense pigmentation of molecules, called chromogens. Chromogens have a tendency to latch onto the enamel of your teeth, making them harder to brush away with toothpaste than other foods.
Other than pigmentation, a food’s acidity cause staining as well. While acidity does not mean the food or drink is necessarily intensely colored, it does facilitate with the erosion of the enamel. When this erosion occurs, latching onto your teeth is much easier for those previously mentioned chromogens.
Top Teeth-Staining Foods and Drinks
Not excluding white wine, this acidic drink has both chromogens and tannins. Chromogens have the pigmentation effect, while tannins are compounds that promote further staining by boosting the chromogens’ ability to attach the the enamel.
There was a reason your mom forbid you to eat too much candy when you returned home on Halloween! Candy, while a major source of cavities, contains teeth-staining agents. If it turns your tongue a color after consumed, it’s having a smaller but similar effect on your teeth too. Fortunately, you would need to eat a good amount of candy regularly for your teeth to really feel the impact, but it’s definitely best to keep these sweets in moderation.
This goes for sodas of all colors, from the dark brown Coca Cola to the clear Sprite. According to experts, sodas have the same acidity as battery acid. Can you imagine the effects battery acid would have on your oral health? Having this much acid makes room for future staining foods and drinks to do some pretty bad damage.
Berries are nutritional powerhouses, fighting infections, protecting the heart and helping manage weight. With so many health benefits, avoiding them would be nuts! However, with such strong pigmentation and some acidity, even in the lighter white grapes, thoroughly brushing your teeth and flossing is highly recommended after consumption. Maybe even brush for a minute longer than normal to remove this staining debris and protect your tooth enamel.
Tea can seem like the perfect friend to accompany a good book and a rainy day. Some teas have great health benefits, such as green tea, because of the loaded antioxidants infection-fighting agents. However, choosing to drink darker teas, such as black tea, can be more staining than coffee due to its pigmentation. However, even the lighter teas have potential to erode the enamel if too much is taken in. Remember, moderation is key!
- Sports Drinks
To be honest, sports drinks only benefit the physically active after a workout due to the carbohydrates and electrolytes available. However, the acidity found in these drinks won’t help when it comes to erosion of the enamel. They are still loaded with plenty of sugars to assist with the breakdown of this protective layer, so limit these drinks to your workouts. To be honest, water is the best hydration medicine than anything else!
Lindsay Bradshaw is a content developer for Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry in Austin, Texas. She voluntarily cut down on teas and sports drinks to better protect her teeth enamel.