Everyone wants to have a healthy looking smile but that doesn’t necessarily mean having blinding white teeth. There are a lot of aesthetic considerations that go into teeth whitening and overdoing it can throw off the balance of your facial features. At the same time, having teeth that are drastically discoloured or stained can change the balance of your features, too, so it’s understandable that people might want to avoid foods that stain their teeth.
A quick note before we get into which foods stain your teeth: there are a few different ways your teeth can become discoloured. The two main categories of discolouration are extrinsic and intrinsic. Intrinsic discolouration happens when your enamel, the hard surface on the outside of your teeth, wears down. Below your enamel you’ll find dentin. Dentin is yellow-brown in colour, so when there’s less enamel, your teeth begin to look more yellow. There are also acidic foods that can wear down enamel; technically, those foods aren’t necessarily staining your teeth with their acidity (though as we’ll see, many of them can stain your teeth in other ways).
A perfect example of something that’s both staining and acidic is red wine. Red wine contains tannins which are known to cause tooth discolouration. There are a lot of other common, fun beverages that contain tannins, including tea and coffee. Chocolate will often contain tannins, too. When you’re trying to avoid tooth discolouration, avoiding tannins is a good bet although it does limit some of the foods you can eat.
Strongly coloured foods are also more likely to stain your teeth. Colas, for example, are prone to leaving dark brown stains while beets might leave your teeth stained red. About 30 minutes after you eat, brushing your teeth can be a good way of mitigating this, but if your diet consists of beets and cola (not one we highly recommend), you’re probably going to end up with some staining. In a similar vein, lots of berries and other similarly brightly coloured fruits can cause some staining.
You should also be aware of how acidity and strongly pigmented foods interact. Acid begins to wear away at your enamel immediately; that’s why it’s important to wait for about half an hour after eating before brushing your teeth – you don’t want to push acids deeper into your tooth! This means that when you have acidic, brightly coloured food, the acid will make your teeth more porous and then the pigments can seep deeper into your teeth. That’s one of the reasons red wine is notorious for staining; it’s both acidic and deeply red.
Tooth staining can be disheartening, but it’s actually pretty easy to fix. You can usually get rid of most staining with a simple teeth cleaning by a dental hygienist. You should get a teeth cleaning around every 6 months anyway – they help prevent cavities and gum disease. Looking for a teeth cleaning in Winnipeg? Get in touch with us; we’re always accepting new patients and we’d be more than happy to clean your teeth and give you some tips on how to avoid staining.