Tooth enamel is porous making it susceptible to stains. Colored foods and beverages are absorbed by your teeth and stains become embedded and that can result in a yellow or brown tinge. However, the color of food is not the only thing to look out for. The level of acidity of food can also discolor your teeth. Acidic foods promote stains by wearing away at the enamel and temporarily softening the teeth and making them more susceptible to stains.
The color from foods and beverages comes from chromogens that easily adhere to enamel. A group of food components called tannins increase staining potential by boosting the chromogens ability to stick to enamel.
Very hot or very cold drinks are another factor that can promote staining. The temperature change can cause teeth to expand or contract making it easier for stains to penetrate the enamel.
Foods, beverages and habits that have the potential to stain your teeth include:
- acidic foods, chromogen rich foods and food containing tannins
- sports drinks
- berries and other intensely colored fruits
- deeply colored sauces like soy sauce and tomato sauce
- hard candies and popsicles
Ways to keep stains at a minimum include:
- moderation and balanced diet are key
- brush within an hour after consuming dark fruits and vegetables
- quit smoking
- be wise about beverages
- use a straw
- add a splash of milk to coffee to lesson the staining effect
- try green, white or other herbal teas
- eat whole fruits or dilute juices
- choose lemon flavored over bright berry flavored candies and popsicles
- swallow promptly and don’t retain things in your mouth for long periods of time
- swish with water or chew sugarless gum after eating or drinking
- opt for lighter colored condiments like rice vinegar or lemon
Food for thought: foods that can leave permanent stains on your clothes may also be tainting your teeth. If brushing is not an option after consuming these foods, rinse with water or chew sugarless gum.