We humans love eating food! Not only is it necessary for our survival, but food can taste darned good given the right chemical ingredients. With the number of taste buds we have on our tongues, it’s no surprise that food has played a defining part in our cultures, histories, and stories since the beginning of our development into thinking, rational creatures.

It’s really too bad, then, that a lot of our favorite foods can end up staining our teeth. Anyone who’s ever had a glass of red wine or a plate of spaghetti knows what happens after the meal is finished: the tongue gets stained and the teeth get darker. 

Charlotte Progressive Dentistry appreciates the fact that our smiles (and by extension, our teeth) are an important part of who we are and how we affect those around us. In today’s blog, we’d like to tell you about the various foods that can stain your teeth and what you can do to minimize or prevent teeth stains entirely so you can keep that healthy smile.

Why Do Our Teeth Stain In The First Place?

Teeth are not impermeable, despite how they might look at first glance. Human teeth are actually composed of dense but porous tissues called pulp, cementum, dentin, and enamel.

Enamel is what covers the outside of our teeth with a protective coating, and for the most part, it does a good job of blocking things from getting to the more sensitive layer beneath it: the dentin. However, enamel is still porous, and that means it can wear down due to various factors.

Acids and sugars in the foods we eat can damage the enamel covering our teeth. So can bacteria, which we become exposed to when we don’t brush and floss our teeth properly. Whatever the cause, enamel doesn’t just grow back naturally — weakened enamel has to be “remineralized” by other means, such as brushing with fluoride toothpaste or including calcium and vitamins in your diet. You can also visit your dentist to receive special treatments that will help your teeth get their enamel back.

When it comes to food, the general rule of thumb is this: if it stains your tongue, your carpet, or your favorite dress, it will stain your teeth. 

Solid Foods That Can Stain Your Teeth

Dark Fruits– Dark-colored fruits are infamous teeth-stainers. They include:

Oddly enough, strawberries are considered to do the opposite of the fruits listed above. They contain malic acid, which is a good natural whitener for enamel. The next time you create a mixed fruit dish for desert, include some strawberries just to cover your bases!

BeetsBeets will stain your teeth faster than you can say the word “beet.” The juice from these vegetables is especially potent when it comes to staining properties, so avoid it if possible.

Tomatoes– As with beets, tomatoes are potent when they are concentrated into a juice or puree, but even regularly eating them raw will cause some staining eventually. Many dentists claim that avoiding tomato products altogether is a must if you want to maintain stain-free teeth throughout your life.

Sauces– Many deeply colored sauces will cause tooth stains. They include, but are not limited to:

Popsicles and slushies– Sugar and fruit juice content aside, frozen treats like popsicles and slushies are usually made with chemical dyes, which tooth enamel has a hard time defending itself against. The next time you’re looking for a cool treat in the summer heat, grab a container of lemon ice instead — it’s all-natural, and it tastes just as good as a popsicle.

Drinks That Can Stain Your Teeth

Colas– Sweet, dark, caffeinated drinks like Pepsi and Coke will stain your teeth rather quickly. Most colas contain citric acids and phosphoric, which only hasten erosion in your tooth enamel. Stick to seltzers instead.

Fruit juices– Juices derived from dark-colored fruits, especially cranberries, are guaranteed to stain your chompers if you drink them regularly. Instead, go with lighter juices like apple or pineapple. Better yet, just eat an apple!

Red wine– Red wine is good for your heart, but bad for your smile due to its source. Ironically, red wine is known to be an anti-inflammatory that can help reduce or prevent gum disease. Drink it in moderation and you should be fine.

Tea– Dark teas like Earl Grey or English Breakfast are especially prone to staining teeth because of tannins. Lighter teas such as green or herbal also contain tannins but won’t stain as much, so stick with them if you’re concerned about the color of your teeth.

Coffee– Infamous for its effect on teeth, coffee is one to avoid entirely. Coffee staining is amazingly difficult to get out when it gets through your tooth enamel, as is evident in the smile of anyone who has spent decades drinking the beverage with their breakfast each morning. Just like with red wine, you should really be drinking coffee in moderation to avoid heavy (and sometimes permanent) staining.

Worried About Your Teeth? Contact Your Dentist

If you have any questions regarding stains on your teeth, contact your dentist. The experts at Charlotte Progressive Dentistry, your local family dental center, would be glad to hear from you if you need consultation in tooth care. In addition to advice you can trust, Charlotte Progressive Dentistry is staffed by experienced family dentists and oral surgeons, so they can handle anything from general dental work to teeth whitening, periodontal treatments, and dental implants.

If you need dental work, contact Charlotte Progressive Dentistry for an online booking here!