A bright smile means white teeth, but it is easy to stain the enamel. Prevention is the key. Here are the best ways to avoid stained teeth.
The most common causes of stained teeth are consuming certain foods and drinks as well as tobacco products. Some types of stains are easier to remove than others.
When considering foods that can stain teeth, be sure to look out for those with dark pigments. Some foods or beverages cause stains because they contain an abundance of molecules known as chromogens. These chromogens latch on to porous dental enamel and cause discoloration.
Another thing to look out for is foods or beverages that are very acidic. Acidic foods and beverages can cause staining by eroding the dental enamel. This temporarily softens teeth and makes it easier for chromogens to latch on.
How can you determine whether something will stain your teeth? Here’s a rule of thumb: If it stains a white tablecloth or light-colored carpet, it is likely to discolor tooth enamel. Common culprits include red wine, tea, coffee, cola, berries, sauces such as soy sauce, curry or tomato sauce, and sweets. Many of these foods and beverages are good for you, so there is no need to avoid them. Instead, be sure to swish with water after consuming, and brush and floss your teeth twice daily. Talk to our dentist about the benefits of an electric toothbrush, which help many people clean more thoroughly.
Another culprit that contributes to stained teeth is smoking or chewing tobacco. This type of stain is more difficult to remove, as tar and nicotine are not easily rinsed away. Again, regular tooth brushing and flossing will help prevent stained teeth – as will quitting tobacco, of course.
Daily oral hygiene is a good foundation for preventing stained tooth enamel, but there are other ways to achieve a pearly white smile. There are at-home and in-office tooth whitening systems as well as permanent options such as veneers for teeth that are permanently stained. Talk to our dentist about the many ways you can achieve a brighter smile.