The drinks we sip don’t seem to stay that long in our mouth. It’s just a matter of opening up and gulping it down. How could they be causing stained enamel and dingy teeth? Let’s look at the three components of common drinks and liquids that lead to ruining our bright smiles. These culprits, or a combination of them, are found in many foods that are good for the general health, but bad for keeping the teeth white and bright.
The Three Teeth Staining Components
Acids in foods and drinks soften tooth enamel and roughen it up, making it easier for stains to sink in.
Chromogens contain dark pigments, and they cling to tooth enamel.
Tannins, plant-based compounds, are pigments themselves and they attract other substances that lead to more stains.
One of the worst drink items for staining teeth is black tea. Tea is full of both tannins and acids, and causes stains worse than its caffeinated counterpart, coffee. Iced tea is no better than brewed. Simply put, the more tea consumed, the higher the likelihood of stained and discolored teeth.
Coffee, while slightly better for the teeth than black tea, contains chromogens and is very high in acids. In combination, these compounds turn teeth yellow over time. As is often the case with tea and coffee, the sugars added by many drinkers also linger as a potential cavity promoter.
Soft drinks give your teeth a hard time with high acidity. Then, the chromogens in colas and the dyes in brightly colored beverages wreak havoc on your white teeth.
While raising your glass of red wine to your health, you may want to think of how it’s affecting your smile. This beloved alcohol, touted for its health benefits, has all three tooth staining components – it’s very acidic, is high in chromogens and has lots of tannins. White wine doesn’t get a pass here. It is also high in both acids and tannins, prepping your teeth in a bad way to attract the stains from foods such as blueberries, tomatoes and strawberries.
Finally we come to fruit juice — what could possibly be wrong with fruit juice? Well, if the fruit stains your teeth, as is the case with pomegranates, strawberries, blueberries, and cherries, their juice will do the same. In the case of these fruits, the chromogens and the tannins work in tandem to leave your teeth bluish, reddish, or purplish, when what we really desire is white teeth.
How to Avoid Tooth Stains
Does all this mean that if you want white teeth you have to just drink water? Our Sacramento dentists don’t do that and we expect that you’d rather not live that way either. So here are some tips:
Have your drink and be done with it. If you must sip something all day, make that drink water. If the drink can stain your teeth, make it a beverage with your meal and end it with your meal. Nursing a cold coffee drink for hours just means your mouth is constantly bathed in components that are staining your teeth.
Use a straw for drinks to keep your teeth from constantly being exposed to tannins, chromogens and acids. This is especially a good idea if you like to drink lemon water, which is very acidic.
Rinse your mouth right away after highly pigmented foods and drinks. Water is your mouth’s best friend throughout the day. If you foods or drinks are acidic, and many are, only brush after you have rinsed them thoroughly, to avoid etching the teeth with your toothbrush.
And finally, get to your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. The trained staff at the Sacramento Dentistry Group is able to give you an honest assessment of what your food choices are doing to the appearance of your smile. Talk to the staff at our convenient downtown Sacramento location about teeth whitening options for getting back your bright white smile and keeping it that way.