Simple Methods to Having a Whiter Smile: What Stains Your Teeth and Why

September 22, 2021

teeth whitening

People see white smiles as a sign of beauty and an indication of good oral health. Because of that, most people want to keep their smiles white. Of all the ways to get a brighter smile, the best are avoiding foods that stain your teeth and taking care of your oral health. Take a closer look at these methods and what foods stain your teeth.

How to Have a Whiter Smile

If you want a whiter smile, you should start by taking good care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss every day as well.

From there, familiarize yourself with which foods and drinks stain your teeth. Then, make an effort to either avoid those items or brush your teeth right after you eat or drink them.

If you still aren’t happy with the whiteness of your smile, you can try whitening treatments. There are various at-home options, but you will get the best results from professional whitening from your dentist. Dr. Sharma can give you more noticeable effects that last longer than you would get with an at-home remedy.

Smoking Stains Your Teeth

In addition to various foods and drinks, smoking can stain your teeth. In fact, it is one of the biggest causes of tooth staining. Even worse, the brown stains will penetrate the pits and grooves in your tooth enamel and will be hard to remove just by brushing. The stains get even worse the longer you smoke.

On top of staining your teeth, smoking can also pose numerous other risks for your oral health. It usually leads to gingivitis and bad breath. There are also other health consequences, including lung issues and cancer.

Drinks That Stain Your Teeth

Dentists say that if something can stain a white cotton shirt, then it can also stain your teeth. In the world of beverages, some of the biggest culprits are fruit juice, dark soda, tea, and coffee. Red wine, grape juice, and cranberry juice are also major culprits, as are sports drinks. The latter of these is also high in sugar, another issue for your teeth.

If you want to enjoy these drinks but limit the potential for tooth staining, consider drinking through a straw. You should also try not to let the drink linger in your mouth. The longer it sits, the greater the potential for stains becomes. At the very least, do your best to brush your teeth as soon as you can afterward.

For those who love tea but don’t want stained teeth, you can also reduce the staining somewhat by opting for white or green tea instead of black tea. You will still notice staining, but it will be less.

Similarly, you can reduce the staining from drinking soda if you stick to lighter-colored sodas. But you will still have to deal with the acid and artificial sugar in the soda, both of which can harm your tooth enamel, increasing your risk of cavities.

Foods That Stain Your Teeth

When it comes to foods that stain your teeth, a lot of them are found in the drinks we already mentioned. For example, just like berry juice can stain your teeth, so can blueberries or blackberries. Beets can also stain your pearly whites, as can tomato sauce or curry. If you add a lot of soy sauce or balsamic vinegar to your food, keep in mind that they can also stain your teeth.

Popsicles are another culprit for staining your teeth, especially the darker colors that stain your tongue or lips. Just like with soda, opting for a lighter-colored popsicle can reduce the staining, but it won’t reduce the effects of the sugar on your teeth.

Follow the same steps to minimize staining you would after drinking something that could cause stains. This means brushing your teeth right after. If you can’t brush right away, at least rinse your mouth out with some water. You can also try chewing gum with xylitol, as this will boost your saliva production. That saliva boost helps clean your mouth. Even eating carrots, celery, apples, or other crunchy foods after can help. They not only encourage saliva production but also scrub your teeth to some extent.

In the case of staples like tomato sauce, there are also some tricks you can use to reduce the staining somewhat. If you eat broccoli, lettuce, or other greens before, for example, they will create a thin film on your teeth. That film can reduce staining.

Medications That Can Stain Teeth

There are also some medications that can stain teeth. There are too many of these to list, but if you have stained teeth and take medicines, do a quick search or ask Dr. Sharma if they may be causing problems.

Some examples of medicines that may stain your teeth include certain blood pressure medicines, antipsychotic drugs, and antihistamines. Kids’ teeth can turn gray from the antibiotic tetracycline. Even some antibacterial mouthwashes may stain your teeth, including those with cetylpyridinium chloride or chlorhexidine.

Why Do Things Stain Your Teeth?

The reason that your teeth get stains comes down to the fact that they are porous. That porosity means that they will naturally absorb liquid.

For certain drinks, such as tea and some wine, the issue behind the staining is the tannins. Anything that contains tannins is likely to cause stains on your teeth.

Chromogens can also stain your teeth. These are chemical compounds that are responsible for the color of some foods and drinks.

Eating or drinking acidic things can also be problematic, as the acids cause tooth wear. This opens the way for more staining.

In the case of smoking, there are multiple reasons that it can stain your teeth. One comes from the nicotine that adds a yellowish tint to your teeth when it comes into contact with oxygen. The other is tar, which is in cigarettes and other tobacco products and is dark.

The Bottom Line

The best way to reduce and prevent tooth staining is to avoid foods, drinks, and other things like smoking that can cause stains. You should also brush and floss regularly, including brushing right after eating stain-causing food. Combine that with regular visits to Dr. Sharma for dental cleanings in Chicago, and you should be set. If you still aren’t happy with your smile, professional teeth whitening may be the answer.


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