A Center For Family Dentistry

Food and Drinks That Stain the Teeth

August 10, 2014 — by Keith Kelley, DDS
Tags: Cosmetic Dentistry Restorative Dentistry

Couples with white smiles at a picnicIt’s that time of year again. The warm weather and long, sunny days practically beg for picnics, barbeques, and food festivals. As you enjoy these activities in the Troy area, however, it is important to be aware of the foods and drinks that stain the teeth. Is your favorite summer snack or beverage giving your smile a dreary winter shade? Dr. Keith Kelley can give you advice about what to avoid during your summer picnics. If coffee or too many berries have already taken their toll on your smile, he can also provide outstanding whitening treatment that will give you a bright, sparkling grin truly appropriate for the sunny summer months. If all you require is a professional cleaning, Dr. Kelley offers general dentistry services such as teeth cleanings to remove surface stains from the teeth.

What Are Dental Stains?

There are two types of dental stains: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic stains, located on the inside of the teeth, are often dark brown or yellowish in color. They typically result from genetics, medication, and certain medical conditions. Food and drink cause extrinsic stains, located on the outer layer of your teeth. When choosing your summer picnic fare, there are three things to look out for:

  • Dark pigmentation: Dark colored foods are more likely to stain your teeth, just as they would stain any other porous substance.
  • Acidity: Highly acidic foods will erode your dental enamel, creating tiny fissures that trap the chromogens, which give foods their color. Additionally, as more enamel wears away, the underlying layer of dentin, which has a naturally yellowish color, may begin to show through.
  • Tannins: Also known as tannic acids, these substances occur naturally in many plants. They react strongly with foods, increasing chromogens’ ability to cling to your teeth.

The Most Notorious Culprit

Certain foods and drinks contain higher levels of chromogens, acidity, and tannins than others. To protect your smile, you should cut back on substances such as:

  • Coffee
  • Black tea
  • Red and white wine
  • Soda
  • Berries
  • Orange juice
  • Bright colored candies and popsicles
  • Beets
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Tomato sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Curry

What to Do to Protect Your Teeth

Of course, you may not be willing to cut out these foods entirely. After all, popsicles and strawberries are staples of summer, and what’s a fancy lawn picnic without a chilled glass of chardonnay? Nevertheless, if you do choose to consume these foods and drinks, you should do so in moderation. You should also exercise caution. Drink plenty of water at the same time and rinse out your mouth when you are done. This will help to remove bits of food and acid from your teeth. Although it is important to brush your teeth, you should wait 30 minutes after eating to do so. If you brush too soon, it will only rub acid and food molecules into your dental enamel, increasing your risk for dental discoloration and decay. Finally, schedule regular appointments with Dr. Kelley for your routine cleanings and other general dentistry services.

Teeth Whitening Treatments

Learning to protect your smile is great, but what if you already suffer from dental discoloration? Fortunately, Dr. Kelley offers highly effective Zoom®teeth whitening treatment. He will apply a peroxide-based whitening gel to your teeth, which can dramatically lighten your smile in just one 45-minute office treatment. For more comprehensive results, he may recommend a second treatment or he may give you touch-up treatments, which you can apply at home.

Learn More about Dental Stains

Don’t let your smile suffer this summer! Call us today and find out how you can enjoy a bright, sparkling smile all year long.

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