So you brush twice a day, never skip the flossing and generally take good care of your teeth but it still looks yellow. Wondering why?

When I faced the same issue, I did some serious research to find out what’s wrong with my teeth. And what I found made me rethink my dietary habits. No matter which brand of toothpaste you use or how many times you brush, you can’t escape the tooth staining effect of certain foods.

It’s not like you have to completely ditch these foods but reducing the intake definitely makes a lot of difference. Before I get to the list of “innocent” foods that are secretly stealing the glow from your smile, here’s a brief explanation of discoloration works:

The Basics of Teeth Discoloration

Teeth staining is a very common phenomenon across every age group. There’s nothing to freak out about if the yellow tint is only surface-level. In medical terms, this type of staining is called Extrinsic discoloration. Drinking acid-rich foods such as citrus fruits or frequent consumption of tannic-rich beverages, such as tea is the leading cause of this behind this.

The Basics of Teeth Discoloration

Good news is, you can bring back your radiant smile by making a few changes in your eating and oral care habits.

Intrinsic discoloration is a more complex process and understandably more difficult to get rid of. It generally occurs when the staining compounds set on the innermost layer (dentin) of your teeth. Cavity can gradually damage the enamel or outer layer of our teeth which makes the inner structure exposed and vulnerable. The very same thing can be a sign of aging as well.

Our tooth enamel turns thinner as we grow old which makes dentin an easy target for harmful germs, bacteria, and teeth-staining chemical compounds.

List of Foods That Are Bad for Your Smile

Some of the foods you’ll find in this list might not the best friends of your teeth, but they are rich in essential nutrients. You don’t have to cut them off completely from your life. Just avoid consuming them in large amounts on a daily basis.

List of Foods That Are Bad for Your Smile

Earl Grey and Staining

If you love sipping on this liquid goodness all day, I have a bad news for you. Tea, especially the black variety is considered to be one of the top teeth-staining food by many dentists. Tea contains tannins which are basically acidic polyphenols.

They can alter the pH balance of your mouth which not only leads to yellow stains but also teeth damage. The darker your tea is, the worse it is for your teeth. If you are like me whose evenings are incomplete without a cup of tea, try adding a splash of milk in it. Also, avoid acidic tea varieties like lemon tea. Herbal tea and green tea are relatively safer choices.

The Dark Side of Coffee

I’m really sorry to break it to you but that Americano you are drinking right now while reading this is going to tint your teeth. Like tea, it also contains high amounts of tannins which make our enamel thinner and weaker.

This allows the strong pigment of coffee to form yellowish fine lines on your teeth. Upping your coffee with a dash of milk can minimize the staining effect, though.

One more tip that has worked wondered for me: don’t swirl the coffee in your mouth. If you finish your drink quickly from a to-go cup, the tannins do not get enough time to create an acidic environment in your mouth.

Go Easy on that Wine

A lot of people think that only red wine has staining abilities and white wine is a lot safer. That’s a whole new level of wrong.

Grapes used for making white wine such as chenin blanc, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc are way more acidic than red wine grapes. But on the bright side, dentists say that both types of wine grapes help to lower the risk of cavity. So it’s okay to occasionally enjoy a glass (or maybe three).

Sodas and Packaged Juices No Better

I guess you already saw this one coming, didn’t you? Colas and packaged juices are loaded with sugar which is virtually the biggest enemy of our teeth. Sodas are even worse because of the presence of phosphoric and citric acid. Both of them are notorious for their enamel-eroding characteristics. Make no mistake, the apparently “healthy” sports drinks are no better.

The temperature of these beverages is also a key factor. Most people take their drinks cold which amplifies the porosity of our teeth. This makes your teeth an easy target for staining from other foods as well.

Plus, too much sugar can show up on the waist, you know? So limit your consumption as much as possible. A better alternative to soda would be seltzer as it’s less acidic.

The Bitter Story of Sweets

Sweets, candies, popsicles, frozen desserts share a prickly relationship with both our teeth and body. Excessive artificial sugar intake can erode the enamel faster than any other food on this list.

Teeth staining is just the tip of the iceberg. Too many of those candies can trigger every possible oral problem you can think of. I’m not suggesting you go cold turkey on Hershey’s. Just don’t eat a lot of them every day.

The Berry Big Problem

Blueberry, blackberry, cranberry, raspberry, you name it. Getting the stains of this dark-colored fruits off your teeth can be pretty difficult. Even though the pigment is natural, it works in the same way as artificial food colors.

Moreover, these fruits have a high concentration of acid which can affect the pH balance of your mouth. If you are a sucker for juice, try a light-colored fruit such as apple juice. It doesn’t stain teeth and tastes delicious too.

Sauces and Stains

Tomatoes are an inevitable part of pasta sauce, pizza sauce, and other cooking sauce recipes. The high concentration of red pigment and acidity makes tomatoes one of the worst teeth-staining foods ever. But tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants which help to fight cavity. So you don’t have to stop eating tomato-based sauces. Just eat a salad full of leafy vegetables before eating the sauce to build a protective layer on your teeth.

The Odd Quirk of Balsamic Vinegar 

Balsamic vinegar is another acidic food that’s known to tarnish the radiance of our smile. The dark-colored vinegar might taste yum as a salad dressing but your teeth have to pay a hefty price for it. However, on a brighter note, the veggies used in the said form a film on your enamel that minimizes the staining.

Cons of Curry

As a general rule of thumb, anything that can leave a stubborn stain on your shirt can do the same to your pearly whites too. Think curry. They are full of dark-hued substances such as tomatoes, turmeric, red chili powder, and whatnot.

This Indian staple is essentially a delicious tasting melange of colors. If you relish this delicacy only once in a while, you don’t have much to worry about. Just make sure to swish some water in your mouth for a few seconds after finishing a bowl. Follow it up by brushing with a quality whitening toothpaste (or your regular toothpaste).

Soy Sauce and Yellow Teeth

The delectable saltiness of soy sauce makes it an indispensable part of many cuisines and cooking methods. However, the dark compounds in this sauce can form an unsightly yellow line on your teeth over time.

Final Words: Do We Have to Completely Give up on These Foods?

No, you don’t have to sacrifice your candy craving or survive this ruthless world without coffee. Teeth staining can be prevented if you eat in moderation and maintain a proper oral hygiene.

Using a straw for beverages, drinking coffee from a to-go cup with lid and eating the red-flagged foods quickly also lessens the risk of staining. Occasional binging never hurts, especially if you brush a few minutes after eating. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading and keep smiling!

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