Tooth whitening treatments are incredibly popular, but did you know that you can also potentially improve the whiteness of your smile by adjusting your diet? Most of the time simple stain removal can make a big difference to the aesthetics of your smile, especially as a number of foods and drinks can stain our teeth, leaving them looking discoloured and lacking their natural lustre.
So, if you want to preserve your pearly whites, what food and drinks should you be aware of?
Unfortunately for the vast majority of us who need a morning cuppa to get going, both coffee and breakfast tea have been proven to stain teeth over time. This is because both drinks naturally contain tannins – a compound that can stain teeth and make them dull. Cutting out these drinks may seem like a daunting prospect, especially as the vast majority of us will enjoy multiple cups of tea or coffee at work or at home (in fact, statistics show that the average Brit drinks 4 or 5 cups of tea a day![i] ) but there are tooth-friendly steps you can take and alternatives available. For instance, research has found that adding milk to tea and coffee does slightly inhibit their ability to stain teeth, meaning the milkier you like your beverage, the less likely it is to dull your smile.[ii]
You can also try to swap out tea and coffee for other hot drinks. Green tea, for instance, though still able to cause stains, is unlikely to mark teeth as badly as darker brews and has been found to have benefits for gum health and general health too. Plus, herbal concoctions such as peppermint tea don’t stain teeth at all as they have no tannin content (but alas, also no caffeine!)
Another regular culprit behind tooth stains is red wine. As wine is acidic, it roughens the surface of teeth over time, creating an opportunity for the dark pigments in the liquid to etch themselves into our enamel. In the short term you may notice your teeth have become purple after drinking a glass of red wine – but over time this discolouration can become more difficult to remove and turn teeth yellow, grey or dull brown. As with the hot beverages mentioned above, you can always swap your red wine for white wine to prevent heavy staining. However, some other tips include drinking sparkling water between glasses of red wine (good for hydration too!) or pairing wine with cheese to counteract the acidity – though neither of these methods are fool proof.
On the culinary side, some foods to avoid if you want to avoid tooth stains include tomato sauces (highly acidic and brightly coloured) various berries (blueberries, blackberries and pomegranate) and dark sauces like balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Each of these foods have been found to stain teeth over time, with acidic content breaking down enamel and making it easier for stains to settle. Strong food colourings can also result in discoloured teeth, meaning that avoiding brightly coloured drinks and sweets is a smart idea.
Ultimately, simply cutting down on a lot of these foods or drinking water after consuming them is likely to make a big difference to the shade of your smile. By looking at your diet closely and cutting out the worst culprits, you can inevitably improve the natural shade of your smile. If you still think you want tooth whitening treatment, you can visit your dentist and ask for a scale and polish to remove any stains so that you can see the natural shade of your teeth and decide if whitening is still something you want to pursue.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
[i] Statista. How many cups of tea do you personally drink on an average day during the week? Link: https://www.statista.com/statistics/681635/tea-consumption-daily-amount-united-kingdom-uk/ [Last accessed March 22].
[ii] Lee. R. et al. Prevention of tea-induced extrinsic tooth stain. Int J Dent Hyg
. 2014 Nov;12(4):267-72.