If coffee, cigarettes, red wine and food have left their mark on your teeth, you’re not alone. “The rule of thumb is anything that can stain a white T-shirt can stain your teeth too,” says Sharde Harvey, D.D.S and principal in New York-based Smiles Park Avenue, a practice that specializes in cosmetic and restorative dentistry.
Some surprising foods such as steak, cheese and dark chocolate whiten teeth, while sauces, juice and curry can stain teeth, Dr. Harvey advises.
While you certainly don’t have to give up your morning cup of coffee or your evening glass of red wine, if your teeth are discoloring, you might want to consider consuming less and thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water after you’re done eating or drinking, according to Dr. Harvey.
Dr. Harvey’s foods that stain your teeth include:
The Dirty Dozen
1. Black Coffee and Black Tea—The darker the beverage, the more staining that can occur. So try adding a little extra milk to lighten the color and reduce the staining effect.
2. Wine—Both red and white wines if taken in excess will stain your teeth. Although red stains, white wine’s acidic composition actually etches tiny grooves in your teeth making them more porous and more easily stained.
3. Colas and Sports Drinks—Because they are so highly acidic, they help promote staining by other foods.
4. Berries— Blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries and other berries, although excellent for your overall health, can stain your teeth. So, if you’re crazy for berries, be sure to rinse out your mouth thoroughly with water after each indulgence or brush with baking soda toothpaste.
5. Sauces—Soy sauce and tomato sauce, as well as other deeply colored sauces, are believed to have significant staining potential.
6. Juice—Grape, pomegranate and cranberry are highly pigmented and can cause staining. So, if you must imbibe, try rinsing your mouth out with water or drinking juices through a straw, thereby bypassing the fronts of your teeth.
7. Pickles and ketchup—These acidic foods are good at opening up the pores of your tooth enamel allowing for easy staining.
8. Balsamic Vinegar—While great on a salad, causes havoc to your teeth. If you must, try it on lettuce, which has a natural ability to provide a protective film over your teeth.
9. Candy–Sweets contain teeth-staining coloring agents. If your tongue turns a funny color, there’s a good chance that your teeth will too.
10. Beets—Now here’s a vegetable that could put a powerful stain in your t-shirt, so, like all foods that stain, moderation is called for with this one.
11. Curry—Although great on Indian food, this yellow-staining food flavoring can be harsh on teeth. So make sure to brush your teeth with a baking soda toothpaste.
12. Popsicles—Did you ever look at your tongue after you’ve finished your fruity, sugary pop? Not only does it color your tongue, but also your teeth. Plus, it has added double whammy negative effect produced by all of that sugar.
But, did you know that Mother Nature has some natural solutions to whitening your pearly whites? Here is Dr. Harvey’s list of teeth-whitening foods:
Teeth Whitening + Cleaning Foods
1. Dark Chocolate. Despite what you might think, the super dark treat can actually brighten your whites. Tannins (antioxidants found in cacao) prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth while also neutralizing the microorganisms that cause bad breath.
2. Steak. According to the American Dental Association, the phosphorus in steak protects tooth enamel and bone. Steak protects tooth enamel and bone. “Plus, the constant chewing that comes with red meat also keeps the mouth and gums exercising to keep them strong.
3. Apples, pears and guavas increase salivary production which flushes away stains over time.
4. Cauliflower and cucumbers also help to increase salivary production, the natural way to flush away stains.
5. Cheese is rich in protein, calcium and phosphorus, all of which can help safeguard against the acids in your mouth.
6. Sesame seeds help scrub away plaque.
7. Salmon provides calcium and vitamin D, nutrients needed for healthy bones and teeth.
8. Shitake mushrooms help inhibit bacteria from growing in your mouth.
9. Onions help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.
10. Pineapple acts as a natural stain remover.
11. Green vegetables like broccoli, lettuce and spinach contains iron which helps form an acid-resistant film or barrier that can help scrub away stubborn stains and protect the enamel on your teeth.
12. Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory to support healthy mouth tissue.