Common medical questions and answers through blogs and articles

Foods that Stain Teeth

Everyone has a guilty pleasure food, but do they wear it on their teeth? If you like hard candies some of us can tell. The more obvious would be blue mouth. You might not have heard it called this, but I bet you know what it is. Someone eats a hard candy that’s blue and when they are finished their teeth and mouth is dyed blue. This will make anyone think twice about enjoying that food in public. More seriously, there are certain foods that will stain your teeth over time. A dental office has tips for reducing stained teeth.

Primary Classes of Tooth Stains

Before diving into the foods that cause tooth stains, it’s good to know about the two main types of tooth stains

  • Extrinsic

These stains are on the surface of teeth. A few causes for extrinsic stains:   foods that stain teeth, smoking, chewing tobacco, excessive coffee drinking, tea, or not brushing often.

  • Intrinsic

Intrinsic stains are inside the tooth, or dentin. Damaged teeth from trauma, a few antibiotics, and genetics play a factor in having intrinsic stains.

Foods that Cause Teeth Staining

Most of the foods that cause our teeth to stain are high in sugar, carbohydrates, and have acidic characteristics. Below are some of the main teeth staining culprits:

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soy Sauce
  • Berries
  • Candy
  • Pasta
  • Curry
  • Acidic Salad Dressings

Many of the foods listed will cause staining over time, especially if there is a lack of proper teeth cleaning. If you are surprised by some of the foods listed above, there are some good reasons why these foods cause teeth staining. Soy sauce and curry are both made up of ingredients that will build up on existing plaque and stick to teeth. If you decide to eat curry you, should eat some vegetables to off set the staining. Berries are acidic, but the color is usually what stains teeth. Pasta is full of carbohydrates, if you don’t brush after eating it there is a chance you will have more plaque buildup than usual. Coffee and tea might not be as surprising if you drink it regularly, you might notice your teeth have a residue after drinking it. Dentists recommend that you should drink darker beverages with a straw. This reduces the amount of liquid that comes in contact with your teeth.

What the Color of Tooth Stains Reveal

  • Yellow/Brown Teeth

This type of staining is usually extrinsic. Eating foods that are heavy in carbohydrates, coffee, wine, soda, and tea cause yellow/brown stains on teeth.

  • Dark Brown Teeth

This is usually a sign of overall poor dental hygiene. If you let plaque build up over time and then continue to eat foods that stain your teeth expect to see a dark brown stain.

  • Bluish Gray Teeth

Most of the time if this color is show through to the surface of your teeth it’s an intrinsic issue. The color is typical of staining caused by medications, such as tetracycline.

How to Prevent Stained Teeth

The biggest way to prevent stained teeth is to regularly care for your teeth.  Your dentist will recommend that you brush after consuming food or beverages that have the potential to stain your teeth. Floss will help more than you might think. Flossing will get the plaque that sticks between and around teeth. Removing this side plaque will keep it from building up over your teeth. The more plaque that your teeth have, the more likely you will have stains from food. When you are eating some of your favorite teeth staining foods you should drink water instead of soda, coffee, or tea. The water will keep the food from sticking to your teeth.

Treating Stained Teeth

In between regular visits to the dentist you might be able to ask for a cosmetic cleaning. This is a quicker than a regular checkup, usually this type of appointment is for removing plaque. You might also want to talk to your dentist about teeth whitening. Teeth whitening can be performed different ways. For instance, there are trays that your dentist can create just for the shape of your teeth. The trays get filled with whitening gel and you put the trays over your teeth. It’s best to ask your dentist what they think is best for your needs.

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