Think of your teeth as a white linen cloth on the dinner table. Now, think of the foods that could stain that cloth: coffee and tea, red wine, cranberries, colas, beets, or balsamic vinegar. In fact, these same types of foods are likely to have the same effect on your smile over time, even though you take pains to brush regularly and rinse with water after eating and drinking.
Enamel Is Porous and Prone to Erosion
There are many foods that can cause stains on tooth enamel. Usually, they are liquids and solids that are dark in color. Even healthy foods, including berries and tomatoes, can have a negative effect on the coloring of your teeth. Because they are good for you, we would never recommend that you them from your diet.
There are other foods that, although they may not constitute major items in your diet or are colorless, can cause enamel stains or erosion. Abrasive, salty foods like soy sauce or acidic items like fruits and white wine can harm teeth, because the acids in these foods create little pockets on the tooth’s surface that actually enhance the staining properties of other foods.
The key to preserving your sparkling smile is to exercise judgment about your food choices by trying to avoid foods and beverages that are dark in color or highly acidic. It is also crucial to be diligent about your continuing oral health care, to stave off the effects of staining and erosion.
How to Counteract the Effects
Proper dental hygiene at home, regular dental cleaning appointments, weekly brushing with baking soda if needed, and common sense about food choices will go a long way toward keeping your smile bright.
Here are some suggestions:
- If you can’t forego your morning coffee, try limiting your intake. You can also add a splash of milk to your favorite morning beverage to “dampen the effect” of the java. Also try drinking your coffee before you brush and floss, or chase your coffee with plain water to rinse the teeth.
- If you prefer tea, switch to green, white, or herbal varieties that contain less tannin, an acidic agent that can aid in the erosion of teeth. Sip iced tea through a straw and go easy on the lemon.
- Try to limit carbonated beverages, especially dark colas. If you cannot give them up completely, use a straw rather than drinking directly from a can or bottle. Remember that diet sodas are just as damaging to your enamel as regular ones. Plain club soda or seltzer water are a better choice if you desire a carbonated beverage.
- Concentrated fruit juices, including lemonade and orange juice, can be as detrimental as cranberry or pomegranate juice to your smile. A better choice for your body and teeth is eating whole fruit; apples and pears are especially good because their fiber content helps to scrub tooth surfaces. Fresh strawberries also act as natural whiteners.
- Eat raw carrots, celery, and cauliflower for the same reasons that you eat apples and pears; they contain fiber that helps clean your tooth enamel in a natural manner.
- Learn to love cheese. Doctors and dentists alike are singing the praises of cheese, not only for its calcium content, but because cheese tends to raise the oral pH level, which, according to recent research, may actually help protect against cavities.
- Finally, drink plenty of water, not only when you eat foods that might stain your teeth, but any time. It’s a healthy habit to cultivate.
At Briglia Dental Group, we are supportive of ongoing efforts to help maintain strong teeth and gums, exemplary oral health, and a beautiful smile. This includes the good advice to watch what you eat and drink. If you are concerned about staining or yellowing that has already occurred on your teeth, talk to us about our at-home or in-office whitening options.
If you have any questions about what you can or should do to protect your teeth, we are happy to discuss the subject with you at your next regularly scheduled appointment or over the phone. While your daily brushing and flossing are extremely crucial to the health of your mouth, it’s those regular checkups and routine professional cleaning appointments that allow us to monitor not only the degree of staining, but the condition of your gums and mouth. Some actions in the present to keep your teeth white and shining might just help prevent major restoration in the future. Please call us at 610-692-4440 or fill out or online appointment request to schedule an appointment.