Top Foods to Whiten Teeth and Prevent Staining

November 29, 2016

Proper and diligent oral hygiene is vital to maintaining the health and strength of your teeth long-term. Most of us today expect to keep our teeth throughout our lifetime and take oral health practices like brushing, flossing and rinsing seriously.

But one area where many of us fall short in improving oral health is taking caution with the foods we eat. In fact, making healthy choices in food types is important for not only fighting stained and discolored teeth, but also improving the overall health and white, shiny appearance of your teeth.

If you’re concerned about what kind of foods whiten your teeth and which foods stain your teeth, read on to learn more about how you can improve oral health by making better dietary decisions.

How Foods Cause Staining

Though we’re familiar with the fact that foods like coffee cause staining, we may not be aware of the reasons why teeth are more susceptible to certain types of foods.

Teeth are made from several substances, including enamel, which is the outermost layer of the tooth. Enamel is a hard tissue that covers the tooth and acts as a protective layer. Enamel is porous, which means it can absorb substances that it is exposed to. Over time, the absorption of substances into the tooth through the enamel can cause discoloration, or what we know as stained teeth. The more embedded certain substances become in teeth, the more discolored the teeth will end up. This is how teeth end up taking on a yellow or brown-colored tint.

The substances that cause tooth staining are contained in the foods and drinks we consume. Certain foods are worse than others for a number of reasons. Foods that are comprised of dark-colored pigments are certainly a primary culprit for causing tooth staining. The more dark-colored substances are consumed, the more they will embed themselves into the teeth.

Foods that are high in acidity also make teeth highly susceptible to staining. Acidity compromises the strength of tooth enamel. As tooth enamel erodes or softens temporarily due to exposure to acidic substances, it allows for tooth staining to take place, as the enamel can no longer adequately protect the tooth.

Foods that Cause Staining

Knowing which foods to avoid is one of the best ways to help prevent teeth staining and improve oral health. Certain foods actually promote teeth staining, whether it’s due to their dark coloring or the acidic substances they contain. Dark-colored foods typically contain tannins or other molecules that can stick to tooth enamel. The more these substances stick, the more they eventually cause teeth staining.

When you’re concerned with which food stains your teeth, consider whether it would also permanently stain clothing or carpeting. If the answer is yes, then it will certainly cause staining to your teeth, as well. With that in mind, here are some of the top foods to avoid to keep your teeth white.

  1. Balsamic Vinegar

    Balsamic vinegar, the base of many of our favorite dressings, meets two criteria for being a teeth-staining culprit. Balsamic vinegar is, of course, a dark liquid that can cause teeth discoloration. Balsamic vinegar is also highly acidic, meaning that this dark food can easily stick to teeth, soften enamel and embed itself into your teeth, reducing their whiteness.

  2. Soy Sauce

    Like balsamic vinegar, soy sauce is also a dark and acidic liquid that gets added to foods. This combination makes soy sauce one of the top foods to avoid to have white teeth and protect tooth enamel.

  3. Tomato-Based Sauces

    Sauces with a tomato base are often not thought of when it comes to the types of foods that stain teeth. But tomato-based sauces, such as marinara or even ketchup, are highly acidic. When the acid weakens the protective layer of your teeth, it leaves them susceptible to becoming discolored by the dark color of tomato sauces.

  4. Berries and Other Fruit

    Certain types of berries are definitely foods you want to avoid to have white teeth. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and fruits like cherries and pomegranates are dark-colored and acidic foods that can cause teeth to stain over time.

  5. Beets

    Eating beets presents another high risk of teeth staining. Beets have a deep, purple-red color. This can cause teeth to turn brown and discolor if eaten too often and without proper cleaning afterward. Additionally, beet juice is another form of this food to avoid, because it is highly concentrated and can do greater damage to tooth enamel.

  6. Curry

    Curry is a spice used in Indian cooking. It has an active ingredient called curcumin, which is what gives curry dishes their bright, yellow-orange color. The problem is that it can also pass that color on to your teeth. Avoid eating too much curry, or else be sure to clean your teeth immediately following eating these types of meals.

  7. Hard Candy and Ice Pops

    Hard candy and ice pops are full of artificial coloring that can stain your teeth and tongue dark red, purple or blue. Hard candies and ice pops are also packed full of sugar, which erodes tooth enamel and makes your teeth more susceptible to staining and tooth decay. Sucking on hard candies and ice pops for long periods of time only causes further damage to tooth enamel, and should be avoided entirely.

Beverages That Cause Staining

Along with specific foods to avoid to have white teeth, there also beverages that should also be avoided. Here are some of the drinks to limit or avoid altogether if you want to prevent your teeth from staining.

  1. Coffee

    Coffee is a well-known teeth-staining beverage. It’s probably also one of the most commonly consumed things on any given day. Coffee is bad for maintaining white teeth for several reasons. Firstly, it’s a dark liquid, which can cause brown teeth. Secondly, it’s an acidic substance, which can damage teeth. And finally, coffee is a beverage that is sipped slowly throughout the morning and therefore lingers in the mouth for a prolonged time.
    All of these factors combine make coffee a serious tooth-staining drink to avoid.

  2. Tea

    In recent years, many people have started switching to tea as an alternative to coffee. However, when it comes to drinks that stain your teeth, tea is just as bad as coffee. The tannins in tea, as well as its high temperatures, cause tooth enamel to weaken and be more susceptible to staining.

  3. Red Wine

    People can be very particular when it comes to their wine, but red wine drinkers beware. Your go-to meal-pairing beverage can lead to discolored teeth. Red wine is very acidic. Its tannins cause the dark red pigment to adhere to teeth and become embedded into the surface. If you aren’t cleaning your teeth properly after consuming red wine, it can cause your once-white teeth to become brown.

  4. Dark Soda

    Sodas are bad for your teeth for a number of reasons. Sodas contain high amounts of citric acid, which erodes tooth enamel, leaving it susceptible to teeth staining. Additionally, the high concentration of sugar found in sodas can also cause tooth decay in weakened teeth. Dark-colored sodas can instantly cause staining of teeth and should be avoided at all costs.

  5. Fruit Juices

    Fruit juices, especially dark ones, can cause teeth staining due to their added coloring. But fruit juices can also cause another serious problem with teeth, and that’s the risk of decay. Fruit juices are highly acidic, which, when exposed to your teeth for extended periods of time, can cause enamel erosion that can gradually lead to tooth decay.

How Foods Prevent Staining or Whiten Teeth

Just as certain foods promote stained teeth and should be avoided, there are just as many foods that help whiten teeth and should be added to your diet.
Certain foods contain natural tooth-scrubbing properties because of their fibrous composition. Additionally, some foods help cleanse and fortify teeth to help build tooth enamel, which defends against staining and decay.

While Foods That Whiten Teeth

Just as certain foods promote stained teeth and should be avoided, there are just as many foods that help whiten teeth and should be added to your diet.

Certain foods contain natural tooth-scrubbing properties because of their fibrous composition. Additionally, some foods help cleanse and fortify teeth to help build tooth enamel, which defends against staining and decay.
While foods that whiten teeth cannot replace proper oral hygiene habits like flossing, brushing and rinsing regularly, they can be powerful allies in the fight against stained teeth. If you’re looking for ways to strengthen and whiten teeth naturally with foods, here are some of the best foods that whiten teeth.

  1. Apples Foods That Help Whiten Teeth

    Eating apple slices can help to clean your teeth by scrubbing off any leftover substances that cause staining. Like many whitening products, apples naturally contain a substance called malic acid, which cleans teeth and removes stains by increasing saliva production.

  2. Pineapples

    Bromelain is the powerful active ingredient in pineapples that has important health properties, such as stain fighting for teeth. Many stain-fighting toothpastes contain bromelain, which makes pineapples a safe and natural alternative for teeth whitening.

  3. Strawberries

    Bromelain is the powerful active ingredient in pineapples that has important health properties, such as stain fighting for teeth. Many stain-fighting toothpastes contain bromelain, which makes pineapples a safe and natural alternative for teeth whitening.
    One of the berries exempt from foods that cause stained teeth, strawberries can actually help whiten teeth. Like apples, strawberries are highly fibrous and contain malic acid to help brush and cleanse teeth while eating.

  4. Broccoli

    Like apples, broccoli is high in fiber, which can help to scrub and polish teeth when eaten in raw form. Broccoli is also high in iron, which helps strengthen and protect teeth from enamel erosion and tooth decay, as well as further staining.

  5. Cauliflower

    The heavy chewing required when eating cauliflower promotes saliva production. Saliva is important for helping to remove plaque and keep teeth clean. The cleaner your teeth are, the less susceptible they are to damage and staining.

  6. Celery

    Celery is another fibrous vegetable that can help scrub and clean teeth. Celery’s nutrients also help to keep teeth healthy and protect your gums, which prevents staining over time.

  7. Cheese

    Calcium-rich cheese is excellent for bones and teeth. Calcium helps to fortify enamel and strengthen teeth in general. Eating cheese also produces saliva, which helps to wash away particles that stick to teeth and prevents staining and discoloration.

  8. Water

    It may seem basic, but drinking water continuously throughout the day helps to rinse away food particles that stick to tooth enamel and prevents them from becoming embedded. This prevents plaque buildup and tooth staining. Drinking water also helps in saliva production, which is essential for fighting tooth decay and strengthening teeth.

Ways to Prevent Teeth Staining

foods you desire. It all comes down to implementing smarter habits and practices for better oral health.

Here are some tips and tricks for preventing teeth staining so you can keep your smile healthy and shiny.

  1. Don’t Let Foods Linger in Your Mouth

    Especially when it comes to acidic foods, you want to ensure you are eating as efficiently as possible. You don’t want to be snacking on berries throughout the day. By eating these acidic foods more quickly and not prolonging the time spent chewing, you can minimize the potential damage caused to your teeth.

  2. Use a Straw

    When it comes to beverages and liquids that cause staining, such as iced coffee or berry smoothies, use a straw instead of drinking directly from the cup. The straw directs the liquid to bypass your teeth, which can help prevent their exposure to these dark substances.
    While not a foolproof method of preventing staining, it can help to minimize staining over time if you make it a regular practice.

  3. Rinse With Water Between Drinking

    Some beverages are not always conducive to being consumed with a straw. This could include hot coffee, tea and red wine. So, instead, make it a habit to drink water in between sips and after finishing drinking. Drinking water along with these beverages helps to rinse out the particles from your mouth, which can help prevent staining, as well.

  4. Clean Your Mouth After Eating

    One of the best, but often overlooked ways to prevent teeth staining is to get into the practice of brushing or rinsing with mouthwash after every meal. This is especially true if you have consumed some of the foods on the list above. You can help yourself to remember this habit by keeping a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk, car or purse so that it’s with you wherever you go.

  5. Choose Light-Colored Alternatives

    When it comes to making choices about which foods to eat and which beverages to drink, it can be helpful to select better alternatives as often as possible. When it comes to wine, choose white over red. When preparing a pasta dinner, choose a cream-based sauce over a tomato-based sauce. If you’re craving a soda, choose a clear liquid instead of a dark one.
    Over time, you’ll start to notice that these small habits help to prevent staining and improve the overall health of your teeth.

Get Healthy and White Teeth

Choosing healthy foods and avoiding stain-causing foods is key to ensuring not only a white and vibrant smile, but also to protecting the overall health and strength of your teeth. These eating decisions can go a long way toward ensuring lifetime dental health. As much as possible, try to avoid excessive use of foods that will stain teeth. Instead, consider healthier and more natural alternatives for teeth-whitening methods.

If you’re concerned about the appearance of your teeth, contact AZ Family Dental for our safe and professional tooth whitening services.

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