If you are concerned about staining your pearly whites, you might be trying to avoid foods and drinks that stain your teeth. Coffee, check. Chocolate, check. Red wine, check! But there are probably a lot of other foods that you had no idea were also contributing to the discoloration of your teeth. These 5 foods don’t look staining, but they can turn your teeth yellow or even brown in color.
You might have decided to switch to white wine after noticing that red wine was making your teeth darken. But nature’s played a little trick on you, there, because white wine can be almost as staining as red. That’s because one of the major causes of staining is due to the acid in wine, which softens and erodes your enamel. The softening of tooth enamel allows staining compounds to penetrate. And the erosion causes your enamel to thin, which allows the darker dentin underneath to show through.
Clear Sodas and Carbonated Waters
Giving up cola to keep your teeth white seems like a reasonable choice, but if you are substituting clear soda or carbonated water in its place, you might not be helping yourself much. The problem is the same as with white wine: these are still highly acidic beverages that can make your teeth vulnerable to staining–and they can thin your enamel.
People switch to green tea from black for some of the same reasons that they switch from red wine, but green tea should not be considered stain-free. The same chemicals that cause black tea to stain your teeth are also found in green tea, albeit in a slightly different form. Drinking green tea every day can lead to yellowed teeth.
What’s the difference between green tea and black tea? Oxidation. Basically, the tea leaves are aged under controlled temperature and humidity to get them to change color. The main active component in the process is, of course, oxygen. That means that the same process can take place in your mouth, although less efficiently. This means that the staining chemicals in green tea are likely to turn darker once they’re trapped in your teeth.
Apples seem nice and white on the inside, but that’s actually just stains waiting to happen. Apples and many other fruits contain polyphenol oxidase, a ripening chemical that also causes them to turn brown. It’s an oxidation process, similar to what changes green tea into black tea, and it can occur in your mouth almost as well as in air, resulting in chemicals that turn brown and can be embedded in your enamel.
Apples are also mildly acidic. In fact, this is good, it helps them clean your teeth after a meal. Combined with the crunchy texture, it’s good to end a meal with apples, but if you want to avoid stains, finish with a glass of water.
Potatoes have a similar problem as apples, but the oxidation culprit is tyrosine. Potatoes have a further chemical reaction that can cause them to turn truly black after cooking. This is because potatoes contain iron and chlorogenic acid, which can react and form a black pigment. This reaction can be facilitated by contact with an aluminum or iron pot. It’s possible that the reaction could also be facilitated by exposure to metal amalgam fillings, but nobody seems to have looked at this possibility.
You Can’t Eliminate Staining
The point of this discussion is that you can’t completely avoid staining foods and beverages, because there are dozens more choices we could have put on this list. Avoiding some of the worst offenders (including smoking, which is not only bad for the appearance of your teeth,but for their health as well!) can slow discoloration, but it won’t stop it altogether.