By now most of us are familiar with the drinks responsible for staining our teeth: coffee, soda, red wine, and tea. These tend to be the usual culprits, and in moderation, we can lessen their damaging effects. Certain foods, some of which you may have thought safe and which you may even eat frequently, can also darken those pearly whites. Some of the more surprising foods include:
- Curry - A seemingly innocuous food, the color of curry is so intense that it has the ability to stain your teeth!
- Tomato Sauce - Tomato sauce is a double whammy: the acidity of the tomatoes wears down protective tooth enamel, and the sauce's bright red hue is a powerful staining agent, especially given its tendency to cling to teeth. Eating some dark green veggies, like broccoli or kale, will help build a protective film over your teeth that makes it harder for these sauces to stain them.
- Balsamic vinegar - Much like curry, the dark pigmentation of balsamic vinegar is guaranteed to stain your teeth, if eaten frequently. Balsamic vinegar also has the added effect of clinging to your teeth like a film. Fortunately, you can combat balsamic vinegar's teeth staining properties by eating it over a bed of greens like lettuce or spinach, which helps clean and protect your teeth as you eat.
- Lemons - Acid in lemons, as well as in other citrusy fruits, can erode tooth enamel, exposing the yellow-hued tissue (also known as dentin) underneath.
- Berries - Berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries, contain chromogens, which is a substance that can be turned into a colored dye. If a substance in these fruits can be used as a dye, can you imagine what it is doing to your teeth? Other fruits are not necessarily safe either: grapes, cherries, pomegranates, and tomatoes also contain chromogens.
- Candy - You already know that eating too much candy can lead to cavities, but those sweets can also be discoloring your teeth. In this case it is not the sugar so much as it is the powerful food coloring, which means anything from lollipops to popsicles to drinks like Gatorade can stain your teeth.
- White wine - If you thought it was only red wine that was staining your teeth and that white wine was safe, sorry! While white wine is not necessarily darkening your teeth, the acid it contains is wearing them down and making it easier for some of the other foods on this list to stain them.
Do not think you need to cut these out entirely to keep your smile brilliant; as always, moderation is key, as well as consistent care of your teeth. Remember, you do not want to brush too soon after eating as your teeth will still be sensitive and susceptible to damage, but you also do not want to wait too long to brush as that gives many of these foods more time to stain and discolor your teeth. At the very least you should rinse your mouth out with some water after every meal, and drink certain beverages, like soda and coffee, through a straw. My rule of thumb: if a certain food or drink is hard to wash off of clothing, it is going to be even harder to remove from your teeth.