teeth stain

Identifying foods and drinks that stain your teeth is easier than you think.

Teeth staining foods

Unfortunately for your pearly whites, the worst offenders for staining are coffee and tea, red wine, colas, curry and brightly coloured fruits like cranberries and blueberries. Foods rich in colour stain your teeth because they contain chromogens, intensely pigmented molecules which are able to penetrate your dental enamel. So how can you tell in a pinch if a food or drink contains chromogens?

How you can tell if food will stain your teeth

"A quick way to know if a food or drink will stain your teeth is to ask yourself whether you'd be worried to spill it on your dress," advises Toronto Dental Surgeon Dr. Edward Philips, DDS. "If it will stain your clothes, chances are it will stain your teeth". So if the canape you're about to enjoy is also used as colour extract for dying fabric — like beets, or seaweed often found in vegetarian or Asian cooking — you're best to back away from the buffet.

Watch out for high acidity drinks

This takes care of the most glaring culprits, but there are some less obvious offenders to guard against — foods and drinks that may not be deep in colour, but are high in acid content. White wine, sports drinks, clear sodas and citrus drinks don't stain your teeth themselves, but their acidity works to temporarily soften your enamel, making it easier for chromogens in other foods to penetrate the pores. Ever follow up your white wine at dinner with an espresso or latte with dessert? You're giving your smile a stain double whammy.

Consider professional whitening

But before you swear off everything that tastes good this holiday season, take heart — there's hope for a brighter future. "It s unusual for any food or drink to permanently stain — most stains are superficial," explains Dr. Philips. "However, brushing alone is not enough to remove stains lodged in the teeth's outer pores." He urges that the first step towards a whiter smile should always be a conversation with your dentist, who can advise an in-clinic whitening procedure that will work for you.

Tip: Having a sip of water between bites of stain-culprit foods or drinks is the fastest way to rinse off residue and stop stains from settling into tooth enamel.