People from all over Greater Vancouver come to our clinic for teeth whitening and after witnessing the success of combined clinic and home bleaching, want to do all they can to protect their bright and beautiful smile. We have provided a checklist of drinks to avoid for maintaining white teeth, and now we’re following up with a look at some of your favorite foods that could be ruining to those pearly whites.
5 Popular Foods That Can Stain Your Teeth and Ruin Your Bright Smile
1. Acidic Produce
This may seem like a broad category, but it’s important to loop this group of otherwise nutritious culprits together. Acidic foods (those with low pH ratings) can erode tooth enamel over time, and when this happens demineralization sets in, leaving your teeth dentin exposed. Dentin has a yellow tinge to it, which is why those of you who consume acidic produce may be experiencing yellowing teeth. Common acidic fruits and vegetables include cranberries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tomatoes (and thus tomato sauce/paste) and even pickles.
Now we’re not suggesting that you cut these nutritious items out of your diet altogether, but you will want to mitigate the negative effects they can have on your white teeth. Drink plenty of water when eating the fruits and vegetables listed above, and consume them with high pH level foods, such as nuts, oatmeal, dark green leafy vegetables, brown rice and whole grains.
We promise we’re not trying to wean you off of produce altogether here, but we must follow-up the acidic varieties above with a mention of their smaller and tasty cousins – the berry. The darker the berry, the more it can stain your teeth. Blueberries and blackberries are obvious perpetrators, but any berry that would stain your fingers when squeezed can have the same impact on your teeth, including raspberries and cranberries. Given that we also listed cranberries above for their high acidic content, you will want to keep an especially keen eye on how and how often you consume them. The food derivatives of berries can also have the same impact, such as jellies, jams, and baked goods that include them in the recipe.
Again, there is no need to cut these high-in-antioxidant fruits from your diet completely, as long as you don’t let them linger in your mouth for long, drink plenty of water when eating them, and balance out consumption with foods that will naturally scrub the surface of your teeth clean, such as broccoli.
You may want to rethink your cravings for Indian, West Indian, or Thai foods in the future, as one of the prime ingredients is curry. Curry is a spice that while bright in color, has a deep and heavy pigment that will bind to your teeth and cause them to yellow over time. Yellow, red, and green curry will all have a similar effect. Eat curry-based recipes in moderation, and again, drink lots of water when doing so (which makes sense for a spicy food anyways).
4. Balsamic Vinegar
Just say no when your restaurant server brings you a saucer of balsamic vinegar to dip your bread in. Balsamic vinegar boasts a deep pigment, but is also high in acid, which compounds the teeth staining effect. You don’t necessarily have to avoid it altogether, as when used as a light salad dressing the staining impact is balanced out by the vegetables (green leafy, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.) which can serve as both a barrier and natural scrubber.
5. Red Meat
This one comes as a surprise to many, but it is true that red meat is both acidic, contains teeth staining properties, and some red meat products even contain sugar as a preservative. On it’s own, it’s not terrible, but when red meat is consumed it is often done so with dark pigment sauces, and complements such as red wine which is high in acids and tannins. If you’re going to eat a lot of red meat, be sure to avoid the traditional pairings.
In the end, a good rule of thumb is note that if it can stain your white shirt, it can stain your white teeth. When eating any of the above, remember the corresponding advice regarding water consumption and foods that balance out the staining properties. If you are currently in need of teeth whitening, and you reside within the Greater Vancouver area, we encourage you to contact our clinic today for a consultation. Until then, bon appetite!