Keeping your smile white and bright is not just about going to the dentist and brushing on a regular basis. In fact, there are a number of factors, lifestyle choices and habits that can affect the color of your teeth. If you have teeth that are starting to show signs of discoloration, Dr. Bowyer offers Zoom Teeth Whitening to help reverse these effects. But prevention is often the better solution.
The first thing that you should know when it comes to maintaining the color of your teeth is that there are actually two types of teeth discoloration: extrinsic stains and intrinsic stains.
Intrinsic Stains occur inside the structure of the tooth. These stains can often be caused by treatment of other medical conditions, either as a developing child, as part of chemotherapy, or even by using common prescribed medications. These stains are significantly harder to correct than extrinsic stains.
Extrinsic Stains are stains on the outer layer of a tooth’s enamel. These stains are caused primarily by lifestyle decisions, but are often able to be corrected. This type of discoloration can be minimized by maintaining regular dental checkups, avoiding smoking, chewing tobacco and avoiding teeth staining foods and drinks.
Drinks That Cause Stains
Generally speaking, it is best to stay away from all dark colored drinks as well as sugary beverages if you are concerned with keeping your teeth white. That said, there are some major culprits to look out for.
Tea: Tea is generally perceived as a healthy drink, and for the most part that is very true as long as you aren’t filling your cup up with sugar. However, tea can stain your teeth. Black varieties are actually known to cause more stains than coffee, while other teas can strip the enamel on your teeth.
Coffee: While less stain-inducing than black tea, coffee is still a teeth staining culprit. The teeth staining properties in your cup of joe come from both the tannins and the acidic nature of the drink. Adding some milk or cream to your cup can help reduce the effects of the tannins and acid, if you can’t get through your morning without.
Sodas: Sodas pack a two-for-one punch when it comes to staining your teeth. Not only are these drinks filled with sugar, they also are acidic. Even if you choose to go for a diet, non-sugary soda, the acidic in the beverage still exists – and this includes many of your favorite carbonated water varieties. Better to stick to plain, flat water if you need be hydrated.
Wine: If you’ve ever indulged in one too many glasses of red wine at dinner, then you have likely experienced the temporary staining nature of this beverage. Not only will red wine stain your teeth and mouth while you are drinking it, but red wine can also cause long term staining. This comes from the same tannins that exist in coffee and tea. Unfortunately, white wine has also been found to make existing teeth stains even darker, so there is no safe way to indulge.
Foods That Cause Stains
When it comes to food, keep an eye out for “healthy” foods that are high in acid. Fruit may always seem like the safe option when it comes to a healthy snack. But it’s better to stick to apples & bananas instead of turning to highly acidic options if you want to keep your teeth pearly white.
Citrus: Citrus, like lemons, grapefruits and oranges, are high in acid which erodes enamel.
Tomatoes: Most people forget, but just like citrus fruits, tomatoes are also high in acid and can break down tooth enamel. This doesn’t just go for the fresh tomatoes, but cooked ones as well. Be careful the next time you go for an easy weeknight dinner of pasta with tomato sauce.
Blackberries & Blueberries: These nutrient-rich antioxidant foods may be great for your nutrition and long term health. But if you’ve got white teeth on your mind, these berries are best avoided.
Sweets (of any kind): There is a reason that dentists have been asking patients to stay away from sugary foods for so long. Sugar can latch onto your teeth and ultimately increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria then releases acids into the mouth, causing both the cavities that sugar is best known for, in addition to darkening your teeth.
With all of these food & drinks likely to cause staining, you may not be able to avoid consuming them 100% of the time. In that case, the best way to enjoy these foods while limiting discoloration is immediate teeth care. Drinking water after every meal or between beverages can help clear acid and sugars from your mouth which can prevent staining. Even better, carry a toothbrush with you and brush your teeth immediately following consuming these foods.
If you still end up with discolored teeth and would like to remedy the problem, set up a consultation with Dr. Bowyer to learn more about professional teeth whitening procedures.