The color of your teeth plays a role in how others perceive you. In one study, participants were asked to rate images of people with different colored teeth (unchanged, decayed, or whitened) according to their social competence, intellectual ability, psychological adjustment, and relationship satisfaction. The results showed that people with whiter teeth were more positively appraised across the board, even when gender and demographic background were the same. Keeping your teeth pearly white can be difficult, especially since many foods and drinks can stain your teeth. The following can help you know what foods to avoid or minimize, how to reduce your risk of staining, and how teeth whitening can improve the color of your teeth.

1. Coffee and Tea

Your morning coffee may be just the thing to wake you up, but it’s also staining your teeth. Coffee contains tannins and acid, which can stain, discolor, and damage teeth. Tea also contains tannins and is surprisingly worse than coffee when it comes to tooth discoloration. Green tea can stain teeth gray, while black tea can stain them yellow.

2. Soda

Soda contains sugar that allows bacteria to flourish and break down tooth enamel. Carbonated drinks are also acidic and can create cavities (even diet sodas). Darker colored sodas are more likely to cause tooth staining.

3. Wine

Like coffee and tea, red wine contains tannins that can stain teeth. Red wine can cause teeth to turn various shades of gray. White wine can darken existing stains and contains acid that allows other beverages to penetrate the teeth.  

4. Desserts and Sweets

Desserts and sweets are delicious to eat, but they genuinely can rot your teeth. Sugars can attach themselves to your teeth, feeding the bacteria that leads to tooth decay. Eventually, you could wind up with darkened spots and black holes on your teeth.

5. Citrus Foods

Citrus foods contain acid that can erode enamel, exposing the yellow dentin beneath it. Despite having many valuable nutrients, citrus foods may be partly to blame for yellowing teeth.

6. Berries

Berries are full of healthy antioxidants, but they can definitely stain teeth. Their rich pigmentation can work its way into the teeth, tinting their color.

7. Dyed Foods

Brightly colored foods and drinks often leave their mark on the tongue and lips. Consuming them too often will eventually leave a more permanent mark on your teeth.

How to Minimize Tooth Discoloration

There are ways to minimize tooth discoloration from foods and drinks. Obviously, you could simply give up these foods and drinks, and that may be a wise choice regarding unhealthy items like sodas and desserts. You can consider replacing these foods with other foods that may help whiten teeth. High fiber fruits like apples and pears can essentially scrub the surface of your teeth to remove some staining. Drinking lots of water can help clear sugars and acids from around your teeth to prevent discoloration. But healthy foods like citrus fruits and berries contain healthy nutrients that your body needs. You should not have to give these items up to prevent staining your teeth.

To reduce tooth discoloration, find ways to minimize the amount of exposure these foods and drinks have to your teeth. Brush your teeth soon after you eat or drink one of these foods so that they don’t linger around your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after eating and drinking. Use a straw to prevent soda from going all over your teeth. Drink coffee out of a to-go lid and cup instead of from a mug. If you love tea, invest in a high-quality option as these won’t stain your teeth as badly. You may be able to minimize staining from tea by adding a little milk to your tea.

Dental Treatments

The best way to address tooth discoloration is to visit your dentist. Regular cleanings can smooth out cracks and reduce bacteria that lead to tooth staining and decay. Additionally, your dentist can provide you with teeth whitening treatments to restore a brilliantly white smile. At-home whitening trays can be provided for an in-home teeth whitening treatment. With dental treatments, you can counteract the effects of tooth-staining foods and drinks and keep your teeth beautifully white.