by Margie Monin Dombrowski
Proper oral hygiene is of course indispensable for maintaining a bright smile, but there is one other important bit of advice: Watch what you eat and drink. Certain foods and beverages can discolor teeth. If you want to protect your pearly whites, read on for some common culprits that stain your teeth.
Because of their acidity, bright red hue and tendency to cling to the teeth, the tomatoes in pasta sauce can leave your teeth vulnerable to staining. Dine on some dark green veggies, such as broccoli, kale and spinach, beforehand to create a protective film over the teeth. The film will ward off tomatoes’ staining effect, so spring for a green salad as an appetizer.
Curry, a spice that works well in Indian food and exotic dishes, is also a cause of discolored teeth. Its deep pigmentation can yellow teeth over time. Due to its high staining factor, curry is something you may want to limit in your diet. Whenever you dine on curry-spiced food, mix in fresh fruits and vegetables that prevent stains, such as apples, carrots, cauliflower and celery.
Balsamic vinegar is a healthy salad dressing, but it can also darken your teeth. The reason? Its dark natural color, of course. It also sticks to your teeth, which can lead to staining if it’s not quickly brushed away. You don’t have to give up on this light salad dressing. Whenever you have a salad with balsamic vinegar, be sure to include a crunchy lettuce; chewing the lettuce will help clean the staining balsamic vinegar from your teeth as you eat.
Berries provide health benefits, such as antioxidants, but they also have the potential to stain your teeth. The deep hue in blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and blackberries in particular can cause staining, regardless of whether they are eaten whole, drunk as juice or processed as jelly and jam. Don’t let them linger in your mouth for too long, and drink water to combat their staining effect. Finish with a glass of milk or a serving of hard cheese, both of which neutralize acid and strengthen teeth.
A number of different drinks, including coffee, tea, sodas, sports drinks and wine, can cause stains due to their acidity. Teas of all colors, even white tea, have been shown to stain teeth and erode enamel. Sports drinks also damage tooth enamel and discolor teeth. Both light and dark sodas, because of their acidity, also cause discoloration and even encourage further staining from foods. Not only can red wine stain teeth; white wine can as well. Believe it or not, white wine is more acidic than red, which may cause more damage and discoloration to the teeth. Limiting your intake of all of these beverages will benefit both your oral and overall health.
Keep Smiling Bright
A healthy diet and a change of habits can prevent tooth stains and preserve your pristine smile. Enjoy your favorite foods, but use caution. Moderation is key when it comes to foods and drinks that discolor your teeth. If you choose water over other beverages, and if you make sure to rinse your mouth with water and brush your teeth within a half hour of eating, you can significantly improve your smile. Stay on top of your brushing and flossing, too. Flossing helps remove the pesky plaque that builds up between teeth and the gum line and attracts stains. Brushing removes food particles before they have the chance to cause a stain. Use stain-removing toothpaste, such as Colgate® 2 in 1 Oxygen Whitening, or inquire with your dentist about available professional tooth whitening options.