Lots of foods and beverages can stain teeth. It’s useful to know which they are, and, because it’s almost impossible to list them all, it’s also useful to know why some foods are so successful at staining teeth.
Teeth are stained when the enamel — the hard exterior surface of a tooth — absorbs some of the colouration of the food or drink responsible for leaving a stain.
Foods and Drinks that can Stain Teeth
In staining, two factors are at play: making the enamel more vulnerable to staining, and the staining agent itself.
Teeth are made more vulnerable to staining when their enamel is softened, and consequently more porous. Numerous factors can cause tooth softening, but the primary one is acidity. Highly acidic food and drink are the most likely to stain teeth. Even if they are not in themselves highly pigmented, acidic foods and drinks are the most likely to soften enamel in such a way that highly pigmented foods will leave discoloration.
A second factor in tooth staining are food compounds called tannins (acidic polyphenols), which, while not pigments themselves, nonetheless aid pigments in bonding to tooth enamel. Grapes, green tea, and persimmons are all tannin-rich.
In general, foods that are the most intensely colored are the most likely to stain teeth. If a food or drink is likely to stain material such as a white tablecloth, it is also a substance likely to stain teeth. The staining agent in food is molecules called chromogenes, intensely pigmented molecules that fasten to tooth enamel.
Drinks that Can Stain Teeth
Foods That Can Stain Teeth
While many foods can stain teeth, remember to keep a balance in your approach. It so happens that tooth-staining foods can sometimes be very healthy options, and should not be bypassed in the interests of avoiding any chance of tooth staining. Instead, enjoy them and follow other steps to minimize their staining effects.
A few simple steps will reduce the ability of staining foods and drinks to discolor your teeth. In addition to simply avoiding certain drinks, using a straw will work to keep the staining drink away from the teeth, especially the front teeth. For both drinks and foods swallowing promptly, swishing with water, chewing sugar-free gum, and brushing regularly will also reduce discoloration.
In addition to foodstuffs and beverages, it is important to remember that smoking and chewing tobacco are primary causes of tooth staining: avoid these too for the whitest teeth..