There is plenty of advice available about which foods and drinks to avoid in order to prevent your teeth from becoming stained. You’ve probably already heard about coffee, tea and red wine as being chief culprits in the tooth staining world. You may not know about some of these other foods that can actually do permanent damage to the enamel of your teeth.
Fruits and Vegetables
We would never tell you to avoid fruits and vegetables. Most health professionals would be quick to agree that whether you’re on a vegan or a paleo diet, fresh fruits and vegetables are a primary component of any healthy diet. However, it’s important to know that some fruits and vegetables can cause discoloration to tooth enamel. The best way to counteract these effects is to brush your teeth about a half hour after you eat. This gives your mouth a chance to wash away some of the staining substances naturally, with saliva, and prevents you from brushing the stains further into your teeth – a sure fire way to achieve the exact opposite of teeth whitening!
Berries, with their high levels of vitamins and anti-oxidants, are one of nature’s healthiest snacks. They also contain deep colors that can adhere to enamel and leave a film on your teeth. Beets, a similarly dark colored root vegetable, and also very nutritious, can also stain your teeth with their deep red/purple color.
Pickles and other fermented vegetables are quite acidic, and that can spell trouble for tooth enamel, as they also cause staining. Citrus fruits are in this same category, because of their high acidity. Although vinegar tastes wonderful, and is often a part of vegetable as well as fruit preparation (think strawberries and balsamic vinegar – yum!), it’s best to limit our vinegar intake, as well. Balsamic vinegar in particular, since it is dark colored, carries the double burden of damaging enamel as well as staining teeth. Get your toothbrushes ready after that salad!
Crackers and Other Carbs
OK, so carbs are definitely moving into the Bad List, and have been for quite some time now. Remember all that talk about how sugar is bad for teeth because it feeds the bacteria that cause dental caries, aka tooth decay, aka cavities? Well, did you forget that carbohydrates, and especially refined carbohydrates, convert directly into sugars, and basically have the same effect on teeth. So make sure that you limit your intake of these potentially tooth damaging snacks. Save your enamel and help protect your teeth against additional staining from oral bacteria. The cheapest teeth whitening is simply ensuring you never have to do it.
Coffee and Tea
OK, we’ve already covered this. Coffee and tea are prime culprits when it comes to tooth staining. But did you know that adding milk or cream to your favorite caffeinated beverage will mitigate much of the staining effects and protect your teeth at the same time? That would be thanks to the calcium in the dairy. It’s a lovely bonus, considering it also makes your drink taste so much more rich and delicious. But still, remember to drink coffee and tea in moderation, because too much caffeine isn’t great for you either…
First off, tomato sauce. Not too much of a surprise here, as tomatoes are both acidic and deeply colored so tomato sauce and ketchup should definitely be eaten in moderation. But here are a few less obvious saucesthat should nonetheless be limited in your diet: soy sauce, chocolate sauce and barbecue sauce…
Oh, say it isn’t so… It seems like every day we learn about something else delicious that has some negative impact or other on our health or appearance. But these guys really do have a special impact. First of all, there’s the dark color, but also, they are kind of sticky, and then, they are usually served warm, and that gives them a little bit more of an ability to penetrate into the teeth.
But before you get too depressed about your rapidly shrinking culinary options, just remember this. We’re not saying you have to stop enjoying your favorite fruits and veggies, give up your crackers and avoid your sauces altogether, we’re just saying to be a little more moderate. And maybe a little more vigilant about brushing. About a half hour after you eat. OK?