Foods & Drinks That Cause Tooth Discoloration

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.

A clear goblet holds red wine while sitting on a wine menu

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.

Clear container holds tomato sauce topped with basil next to 2 cherry tomatoes on a counter sprinkled with dried herbs

2. Tomatoes

Tomato-based products—including tomato juice, pasta sauce, and ketchup—are acidic, which causes the red pigmentation to cling to the enamel.

Aerial view of a white bowl filled with blueberries, a food that sometimes causes tooth discoloration

3. Berries

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.

Aerial view of a beet stew on a white wooden counter, a food that causes tooth discoloration

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.

A hand pours out a small white container of balsamic vinegar into a shallow white bowl

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!


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