Considering the increasing popularity of tooth whitening, it’s obvious that many patients are concerned about tooth discoloration, which is often caused by the foods and beverages we consume. Teeth are susceptible to staining because enamel contains microscopic pits and ridges that can absorb the pigment of certain food and drink.
The good news is that staining from foods and beverages can be corrected, and sometimes avoided altogether. In this article we discuss a few of the most common edible culprits of tooth discoloration.
1. Dark Beverages
Coffee, tea, red wine, and soda are notorious for their ability to stain teeth. In addition to their dark pigmentation, these beverages usually contain enamel-damaging acid and sugar.
Tomato-based products—including tomato juice, pasta sauce, and ketchup—are acidic, which causes the red pigmentation to cling to the enamel.
Dark berries, such a blueberries and blackberries, are not as acidic as tomatoes, but tooth enamel is vulnerable to discoloration from their dark pigmentation, which can cause staining.
4. The Humble Beet
Beets have been enjoying something of a revival after being heavily promoted by the character Dwight Schrute on the television sitcom, “The Office.” However, in addition to their alleged deliciousness, beets have long been used as a natural dye, so it’s no surprise that they are so good at staining your teeth.
5. Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar’s acid content can make enamel temporarily more porous, allowing the color to seep into the otherwise smooth surface. So take it easy next time you pour a balsamic reduction dressing on your caprese salad.
What You Can Do to Prevent Discoloration
Avoiding the foods and beverages that cause staining is easier said than done. However, there are a few practical measures you can take that will limit their negative effects on your teeth:
- Be sure to rinse your mouth with water during and after consuming stain-causing foods or beverages.
- Chew sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after meals to stimulate saliva production and neutralize acids.
- When drinking dark, acidic, or sugary beverages, use a straw to help limit contact of the fluid with your teeth.
- But perhaps the most useful rule of thumb is to enjoy the aforementioned foods and beverages in moderation.
If you have questions or concerns about tooth discoloration, or would like to brighten up your smile, contact us today to schedule a cosmetic dentistry consultation at Three Creek Dentistry. We offer professional teeth whitening and veneers and would be thrilled to help you improve the look of your smile!