Hmm, They’re Not Supposed to be That Color…
A Guide to Things that Stain Your Teeth
We’ve talked on our blog before about ways to whiten your teeth, but how we get stains in the first place is equally important. It will come as no surprise: we dental professionals consider prevention key! Knowing what to avoid is half the battle. So what are the main culprits behind those unattractive stains? Let’s break it down by category.
Deep Colors: Chocolate, wine, coffee, tea, berries… even soy sauce and some curries can stain the teeth. In short, if you’d freak over it spilling on your white shirt, it’s probably not great for your pearly whites. A lot of foods that fall into this category are really good for you, so we’re not recommending abstinence here. In addition to the tips above, mixing in crunchy fruits and veggies can help cleanse the teeth, and chewing sugar-free or xylitol gum can stimulate saliva flow and keep everything fresh.
Poor Dental Hygiene: Without proper home care, bacteria and stains build, plaque forms and hardens, and the teeth begin to appear discolored. Flossing daily, brushing and using mouth rinse twice a day and keeping up with your dental visits can keep this at bay – neglecting this routine threatens not only your health but the whiteness of your smile.
Acids: We’ve come down on acidic foods before, namely because they erode your enamel and put the health of your teeth at risk. This same erosion makes them guilty of tooth discoloration – thinner enamel reveals the yellow-brown dentin underneath, giving teeth a yellowish cast. Limiting your consumption of acidic drinks and foods – alcohol, citrus, sports drinks and sodas to name a few – not only helps your oral health but keeps everything looking pretty. When you indulge, keep the amount of time the acid sits on your teeth to a minimum – consume quickly, use a straw and rinse with water.
Tobacco: We don’t even really need to go into detail here, do we? If tobacco can stain your fingers it will certainly stain your teeth. And make you cough. And give you bad breath. And encourage serious decay and disease. Just… just don’t.
Sweets and Starches: This is another favorite for us dental professionals to pick on. The common denominator here is sugar – when it sits there too long it softens the enamel and encourages the development of plaque, diminishing the natural whiteness of the teeth. Same rules apply here as when dealing with acidic foods, and don’t forget to floss!
These of course are the things we can control. Other factors can play a role, such as genetics, certain types of diseases and some medications. If you’ve made all the adjustments you can and you’re still unhappy with the color of your teeth, talk to your dentist about your options!