Many people come to our dental office wanting help with their yellow or stained teeth. There are a variety of reasons our teeth become discolored, including tobacco use and natural aging, but did you know the cause is often your diet? Foods and drinks that are highly acidic or that contain dark pigment can alter the color of your teeth.
How does this happen? Acidic foods and drinks roughen and open up the pores within the enamel of your teeth. This allows the colors in your foods to etch into the surface of your teeth. Acids also cause overall erosion of your tooth enamel. As the enamel is eaten away, it exposes the dentin of your teeth, which is naturally darker and more yellow than enamel.
According to Beaverton dentist, Douglas Shafer, DDS, here are some of the most common foods that discolor your teeth:
Coffee and Tea: These drinks contain tannins, a type of polyphenol, that can cause color compounds to stick to your teeth, making them yellow or brown. Constantly sipping these drinks throughout the day can lead to significant staining.
Red Wine: This acidic drink not only contains tannins, but also purplish pigment. As the acid opens up the pores of your enamel, those colors can easily stick.
Colas: Sodas are very acidic, leaving your enamel prone to stains. Dark colas have an added punch of being acidic AND full of darker pigments that can stain teeth.
Energy and Sports Drinks: These drinks contain acids that will break down enamel, revealing the yellow dentin underneath.
Berries: Fruits like blackberries, blueberries, and others with dark pigments can cause discoloration of teeth over time.
Spices: Some spices—including curry, turmeric, and saffron—can yellow teeth when eaten regularly.
So how can you avoid food stains on your teeth?
- Avoid or minimize eating or drinking stain-prone foods and drinks.
- Drink water at the same meal as these acidic or staining foods and rinks. Then rinse with water after.
- Use straws for acidic or stain-causing drinks to avoid contact with your teeth.
- Use a whitening toothpaste morning and night. Whitening toothpastes have proven effective to remove surface stains.
- Try one of our teeth whitening procedures. We offer whitening services for every budget.