Want Whiter Teeth? Avoid These Foods that Can Stain Your Smile

Shannon Farrell
White and red wine

Photo: Getty Images

Between brushing, flossing, rinsing and trying every whitening treatment out there, we work hard to maintain white teeth. But even with all that fuss, we really just go one step forward and two steps back with some of the stain-causing foods we consume. Beware of some of these strain culprits the next time you need to have camera-ready pearly whites.

You’ve probably heard that wine is a big no-no when you want white chompers. Although red wine stains teeth and lips immediately, white wine actually does more damage in the long run because it is generally more acidic. “The high acid content in white wine causes rough spots and grooves on the teeth that leave them vulnerable to stains from darkly colored food and beverages including ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, spaghetti sauce and rare meat,” says Dr. Irwin Smigel, creator of Supersmile, a line of teeth whitening products.

When looking for a sweet beverage, steer clear of dark sodas, including diet, because of their staining color. “The temperature of soda can also be a factor because very cold temperatures cause teeth to contract, which makes them more porous and easier to stain,” says Dr. Smigel.

Again, a no brainer. But it doesn’t end with black tea. Recent studies have found that white teas and even herbal teas cause staining as well as have the potential to erode enamel, the thin outer covering of the tooth.

Blueberries, blackberries, cherries and other dark colored fruits are known to stain teeth. Likewise, juices and pies made with these fruits have the same effect.

Colorful Candy
Does it turn your tongue a different color? Then it will stain your teeth, too.

4 Tips to Prevent Staining
1. Floss
Dr. Smigel suggests flossing at least once a day. “Flossing correctly removes the bacteria that forms between the tooth and the gums and that can cause gum disease.”

2. Use a straw
Sip any stain-causing beverages with a straw to keep them away from your front teeth.

3. Make substitutes
Swap out teeth-staining beverages and fruits for water or a less pigmented fruit like melon or green grapes. Or better yet, reach for an apple. The fruit has an abrasive crunch that actually buffs away surface stains while preventing plaque buildup.

4. Whiten with your gum
Supersmile’s Professional Whitening Gum ($5 for a pack of 12, supersmilestore.com) is pure genius. The sugar-free gum, which is actually sweetened with a natural sugar substitute that prevents cavities, includes calprox, a calcium peroxide, that prevents plaque and stains.

Read more: How to Whiten Your Teeth Without Whitening Products

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