30 Foods That Surprisingly Stain Teeth (The Ultimate List)
Author: Matt Hannan, DDS
Updated: August 26, 2023
Do you love a good cup of coffee or red wine? How about snacking on juicy blueberries or indulging in dark chocolate?
While these foods and drinks may be delicious, they could also contribute to the discoloration of your teeth.
Of course, maintaining good oral hygiene habits is essential for preventing tooth staining, but did you know that certain foods and drinks can also play a significant role?
In this article, we’ll look at 30 foods and drinks that can cause tooth discoloration and provide tips for minimizing their staining effects from a dentist’s perspective.Recommended Reading: Teeth Staining | The Ultimate Guide
Why Do Certain Foods and Drinks Stain Teeth?
To understand why certain foods and drinks can cause tooth staining, it’s essential first to understand the anatomy of teeth.
The outermost layer of the tooth is called the enamel, a complex, protective layer covering the softer dentin layer beneath it. When we eat or drink something high in pigments, acids, or sugars, these substances can adhere to the enamel layer and cause staining.
Pigments are the most common culprit when it comes to tooth staining. Foods and drinks that are dark in color, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and cola, contain pigments that can adhere to the enamel and cause discoloration over time.
Additionally, acidic foods and drinks can erode the enamel layer, making it more susceptible to staining. Sugary foods and beverages can also contribute to staining by feeding the bacteria in our mouths that produce acid, eroding the enamel and making it more prone to staining.
Dentist Recommendation: I recommend incorporating crunchy fruits and vegetables into your diet, such as apples and carrots, to naturally remove surface stains from your teeth.
Tips for Preventing or Minimizing Staining Effects
So, what can you do to prevent or minimize the effects of staining? Here are some tips:
- Drink through a straw: Using a straw can help to reduce contact between the pigments or acids in certain foods and drinks and your teeth, reducing the likelihood of staining.
- Rinse with water: After consuming food or drink high in pigments or acids, rinse your mouth with water to help remove lingering particles.
- Brush your teeth: Brushing your teeth after consuming staining foods or drinks can help to remove any pigments or acids that may have adhered to the enamel.
- Use a whitening toothpaste: Whitening toothpaste can help remove surface stains and prevent new ones from forming.
- Consume in moderation: Limiting your intake of foods and drinks that cause staining can help reduce their effects on your teeth.
Contributing Factors of Tooth Staining
In addition to pigments, acids, and sugars, other factors can contribute to tooth staining. Some of these include:
- Age: As we age, the enamel on our teeth can become thinner and more prone to staining.
- Genetics: Some people may be more susceptible to tooth staining due to their genetic makeup.
- Medications: Certain medications, such as antibiotics or antihistamines, can cause tooth staining as a side effect.
- Trauma: Trauma to the teeth, such as a blow to the mouth, can cause discoloration as the teeth try to heal.
The Ultimate List of 30 Foods That Surprisingly Stain Teeth
- Coffee: The dark pigments in coffee can adhere to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Tea: The pigments and acidity levels in tea can cause staining. Consuming lighter teas, like white or green tea, or whitening toothpaste can help prevent staining.
- Red wine: The pigments in red wine can stick to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Cola: The high sugar content and acidity levels can contribute to tooth staining.
- Sports drinks: The acidity levels and artificial coloring in sports drinks can cause staining.
- Energy drinks: The high sugar and acid content in energy drinks can cause staining.
Fruits and Vegetables
- Grape juice: The deep color of grape juice can contribute to staining.
- Blueberries: The pigments in blueberries can adhere to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Blackberries: The deep color of blackberries can contribute to tooth staining.
- Pomegranate: A pomegranate’s dark color and acidity levels can cause staining.
- Tomato sauce: The deep red color of tomato sauce can contribute to tooth staining.
- Soy sauce: Soy sauce’s deep color and acidity levels can cause staining.
- Balsamic vinegar: Balsamic vinegar’s dark color and acidity levels can cause staining.
- Beetroot: The deep color of the beetroot can cause staining.
- Curry: The deep pigments in curry can adhere to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Turmeric: The pigments in turmeric can cause staining.
- Carrots: The pigments in carrots can adhere to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Sweet potatoes: The pigments in sweet potatoes can cause staining.
- Acorn squash: The pigments in acorn squash can cause staining.
- Canned peaches: The pigments in canned peaches can cause staining.
- Red beets: The deep color of red beets can contribute to tooth staining.
- Red cabbage: The deep color of red cabbage can contribute to tooth staining.
- Red onions: The pigments in red onions can cause staining.
- Spinach: The pigments in spinach can adhere to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Broccoli: The pigments in broccoli can adhere to tooth enamel and cause staining.
- Dark chocolate: The pigments in dark chocolate can cause staining.
- Caramel: The pigments in caramel can cause staining.
- Popsicles: The artificial coloring in popsicles can cause staining.
- Jell-O: The artificial coloring in Jell-O can cause staining.
- Gummy bears: The artificial coloring in gummy bears can cause staining.
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Teeth-Staining Facts & Statistics
- Prolonged exposure to acidic beverages can cause a loss of 10 micrometers or more enamel thickness per week.
- Beverages with a pH of 4.0 or lower, such as soft drinks and fruit juices, particularly damage tooth enamel.
- Exposure to acidic beverages for 30 minutes or longer can cause a significant loss of tooth enamel, with erosion rates ranging from 1.1 to 11.5 micrometers per hour.
- Drinking acidic beverages with a meal can help to reduce the erosive effects on teeth by increasing saliva production and neutralizing acid in the mouth.
- Fluoride can help to reduce the effects of acid erosion on teeth, with a reduction in enamel loss of up to 50% when fluoride is present.
- Coffee consumption was associated with a higher risk of tooth staining, with each additional cup of coffee daily associated with a 14% increase in staining risk.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
To prevent your teeth from staining, it's important to practice good oral hygiene, limit your intake of foods and drinks known to cause discoloration and minimize contact between staining substances and your teeth. This can include drinking through a straw, rinsing your mouth with water after consuming staining substances, brushing your teeth after eating or drinking, and using a whitening toothpaste.
Foods and drinks that are dark in color, such as coffee, tea, red wine, and cola, are some of the most common culprits for tooth staining. Additionally, acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits, tomato sauce, vinegar, and sugary foods and drinks can also contribute to staining.
There are several ways to remove stains from your teeth, including professional teeth whitening treatments, at-home whitening kits, and whitening toothpaste. It's important to follow the instructions carefully when using whitening products and talk to your dentist before beginning new whitening treatments.
While tooth staining is often a cosmetic issue, it can also signify a more serious dental problem. For example, staining that is accompanied by sensitivity or pain could be a sign of enamel erosion or tooth decay. If you are concerned about tooth staining or experiencing other dental issues, it's important to talk to your dentist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
My Experience & Expertise
As a dentist who has helped countless patients regain their confidence with brighter, whiter smiles, I can tell you that the effects of tooth staining can be both frustrating and damaging to your overall dental health. But the good news is that there are plenty of ways to combat tooth staining, from professional teeth whitening treatments to easy at-home remedies.
By staying informed about the causes of staining and taking proactive steps to protect your teeth, you can maintain a smile that you’ll be proud to show off. And remember, your dentist is always here to help you achieve the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve, so don’t hesitate to ask for guidance or advice.
You can enjoy a brighter, more confident smile for years with a little TLC and the right treatment plan.
Knowledge is power when cultivating healthy dental habits. The more informed you are, the better positioned you’ll be to prevent avoidable and potentially costly dental procedures for you and your family. Watch for future blog posts, where we’ll continue sharing important information, product reviews and practical advice!
- Watts A, Addy M. Tooth discoloration and staining: a review of the literature. Br Dent J. 2001.
- Lee RJ. Prevention of tea-induced extrinsic tooth stain. Int J Dent Hyg. 2014.