Certain foods are notorious for their stain-provoking properties.
They leave trails of stains on the outside world of tablecloths, shirts, and carpets and do the same inside the mouth on the tongue and teeth.
If these foods turn into a regular affair, the stains they leave on teeth can turn persistent and possibly permanent.
Why do Foods Stain Teeth?
Any food that is a frequent feature on the menu will have an effect in terms of positive outcomes and side effects like stains.
If food factors as a favorite in befitting big portions, imposed stains are of similar proportions.
However, the potential to stain must not be underestimated by smaller shares of foods eaten through out the day.
Foods that discolor have certain characteristics that cause this. A pH scale determines how acidic or alkaline a food is.
The numbers range from 1 to 14, with 7 as the neutral. The pH values of foods that stain are mostly below 7, indicating a high acidity.
Highly acidic foods are known to erode enamel to allow stains to easily settle. Enamel that is damaged will eventually affect dentin – which is mostly shades of yellow.
This ends up giving teeth a yellow discolored look.
Some foods contain tannins, which are bitter astringent chemicals that bind to proteins and other compounds.
Most foods with tannins carry deep dark hues of browns and reds. After eating food rich in tannins, a characteristic dryness is felt in the mouth.
This inhibits the production of saliva to wash away residual deposits of colors from these foods.
Sugary foods interact with bacteria in the mouth to intensify an acidic environment in the mouth. This is turn causes more decay, discoloration, and demineralization.
Sugar, acidity combined with pigmented properties is a perilous combination causing stains.
Foods that are highly pigmented contain chromogens that supply them color. Tannins in foods boost chromogens ability to stick to enamel.
Healthy pearly whites have many positive effects from looking attractive to exuding confidence.
In – office treatments and over the counter products can be expensive solutions achieving that perfect smile.
A combined approach is worthwhile that includes good oral care, hygiene, staying informed, and avoiding certain foods that cause stains.
If a healthy smile is of priority minus the need for harsh treatments, foods that stain should be consumed with caution.
Beets offer numerous health benefits. The root vegetable may be rich in fiber; increases athletic endurance and can lower blood pressure.
Beetroots stain the hands while being cut and the dark pigments of the root can be a menace for teeth.
It can cause discoloration and ultimately dark stains if consumed on a regular basis as in the case of some athletes.
Moderation is key and swishing with water after or brushing the teeth can help prevent stains from remaining.
Vinegar, in general, is very useful in many dishes and salads. It also has many benefits from being an antioxidant, antibacterial, and weight loss aid.
However, it must be noted that vinegar in its many forms is very acidic. Acids are known to have a bad reputation with enamel.
Vinegar can erode etches into enamel to trap stains from other pigmented foods. Balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar, in particular, have dark colors that can penetrate the pores in teeth.
Apple cider vinegar is also very acidic, which must be either diluted or used sparingly.
Chewing on crunchy salad leaves is known to form a protective film on enamel.
Following up a vinegar-dressed salad with a water rinse can keep stains at bay.
3. Tomato-based sauces
Variations of tomato sauces are a yummy addition to any dish. Tomatoes themselves are packed with numerous health benefits.
It may come as no surprise though tomatoes and its different blends such as marinara, salsa, and arrabbiata sauce are contributors to annoying stains.
Tomatoes are highly acidic which can open pores in the enamel and possibly be abrasive to sensitive teeth.
This allows colors from food to settle into enamel etches and manifest in stains. Again, adding fibrous vegetables to the menu will help to protect enamel from damage.
Tomato sauce can render teeth sensitive and so brushing immediately after may add to the abrasive action. A water rinse is better.
4. Soy sauce
Soy sauce is a well-known condiment used in Asian cooking. It’s a good source of soy and low in calories.
However, the dark-colored pigments from soy sauce can stick to the teeth and cause nasty stains.
In addition, soy sauce may contain the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate or MSG, which is known to cause, tooth decay and subsequent stains.
Sipping on the water in between a meal with soy sauce may prove beneficial. Overall, a thorough water rinse after can also help.
5. Energy bars
Energy bars as the name implies are sources of energy packed with fruits, nuts, dates etc.
However, the other ingredients that are easily missed out are culprits of tooth decay and nasty stains.
These bars tend to have a gooey – sticky texture that easily lodges in the crevices of teeth, to feed on bacteria. This causes an acidic environment, softens enamel and causes much damage.
Besides the texture, these bars have a sour taste that’s hidden by sugar additives and ingredients that are unhealthy for teeth and healthy in general.
Otherwise – healthy teeth suddenly sprout problems of stains and decay after being in contact with the ingredients in these energy bars.
It goes without saying then that brushing and flossing after an energy bar are of utmost importance to avoid stains and decay.
Chocolate is chock-a-block with antioxidants and abilities to release happy hormones. However, it comes as no surprise that chocolate causes wreckage to our pearly whites.
Most chocolate contains added sugar, which feasts on the bacteria in the mouth.
Be it white or dark chocolate a combination of tannins and sugar makes dark stains and decay an inevitable outcome.
Chocolate sauce can be a sticky staining culprit while bits of crunchy chocolate can stick to teeth and feed on bacteria.
Rinsing and brushing after chocolate can prove to be stain-free but limited indulgence is best.
Curries are a regular, tasty feature of Indian cuisine, loaded with spices and flavors.
The yellow and red pigments give curries their color and sure shot stains factors for teeth. They can leave teeth looking yellow and discolored.
Rinsing and brushing after a meal might help lighten stains.
For curry lovers though it’s a bonus knowing that spices in curries stimulate saliva, which then does its bit to wash away stains.
8. Fruits such as…
Blueberries and blackberries are packed with antioxidants but have a bad rep due to their staining abilities.
Colors from the fruits seep into the pores of enamel and can remain there if not rinsed out properly. Blueberries, raspberries, and cranberry are all to blame.
Berries carry a pH value of around 3, which is acidic. Pomegranates are berries that have a pH of 2.93-3.20 – that formulates an environment for its red traces.
The high acidic level can erode enamel creating more deposits for the dark colors of the fruit.
Brushing after eating berries can cause more harm, which makes rinsing more suitable.
Citrus fruits are great as antioxidants and in their content of vitamin C.
However, their high acidic range is reason enough to cause damage to enamel that is a breeding ground for stains.
In high acidic range are lemons with a pH as low as 2.30; grapefruits have a pH of 3.38 and tangerines a pH of 3.90.
Oranges are mildly acidic with a pH of around 4.
To reap the benefits and slay the stains, citrus fruits should be followed by a thorough water rinse.
These fruits are dense in their nutritional values and benefits. However, they are also crammed with color and acid.
Concord grapes are loaded with a pH of 2.80-3.00 and astringent properties can deposit deep dark stains on enamel.
Water rinsing after these fruits can flush away lingering stains.
Popsicles are heavily laden with sugar but the artificial color is evident in residual stains on the tongue.
The damage they do to teeth is predictable. Extreme temperature open pores on enamel making it sensitive to stains.
These qualities of sugar, color, and cold temperatures make popsicles an obvious staining culprit.
Most candies and sweets are artificially colored which they transfer to teeth and filled with sugar, a dangerous combination to stain and cause damage.
Moreover, candies with a sticky – gummy consistency have the potential to hold on to enamel and feed off bacteria.
Besides brushing and flossing after eating these zero benefit baddies, cutting them off the list can save a lot of pain.
While it is possible to cut back on some of these foods that cause yellow teeth, it may not be possible to completely eliminate them from our diet. Hence, following some preventive measures is best.
- Get teeth cleaned by a dentist at least once in six months
- Brush at least twice daily
- Floss once at least
- Use home whitening systems recommended by the dentist to remove discoloration.
- Cut back on eating or drinking foods that stain or use a similar alternate like substituting apples, melons or cauliflower for blackberries and other berries.
- Use a straw when drinking juices, sodas or iced tea.
- Chew and swallow stain-causing drinks and foods quickly to ensure they don’t remain in the mouth and on the teeth for too long
- Rinsing and even brushing after each meal or snack is ideal. Gargle well with water to remove any leftover food particles. Water with some fluoride content can wash off acids and sugar in teeth.
- For those who do not want to brush after a meal or cannot access a toothbrush can chew on sugarless gum for a few minutes after eating. Sugarless gum usually increases saliva production which washes away bacteria in the mouth.
- Dairy products contain high levels of calcium and protein. Eating them is good to maintain healthy teeth.
- Eating high fiber foods like beans or spinach and leafy vegetables is good for teeth for it can generate saliva and also scrub teeth naturally.
Less is always more even in the case of food that is good for health. Food that is good for the body might not be always good for the teeth.
Keep in mind, brushing after acidic food could do more damage to softened enamel while some cheese or a glass of milk can neutralize the acid.
Awareness is key acted upon with responsible oral care.