Don't Let Tea Stains on Teeth Spoil Your Smile

Q: I started drinking black tea, as you've recommended, but it stained my teeth! I was able to remove the stains with whitening strips. How can I keep drinking black tea without staining my teeth?
-- Laurel, via e-mail

A: Having pearly white teeth is like wearing great black jeans: You know they make you look good. Likewise, tea makes you feel good -- relaxed and attentive. And it contains polysaccharides, chemicals that stabilize your blood sugar, helping you avoid Ho-Ho binges. But, yes, black tea can stain teeth. The tannin in it transfers to tooth enamel. (Green tea stains, too, though not as much.) If you love the comfort and health benefits of tea, do the following:

  • Swirl some water around your mouth after every cuppa, to rinse away the tannin. Even better, brush. Find out what dental tools are best for you.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque, which acts like a stain magnet, darkening teeth around the edges.
  • Ask your dentist to suggest an at-home whitener. Just don't DIY more often than recommended. Damaged tooth enamel isn't pretty.

Sodas and sports drinks are bad for your pearly whites, too. Here's why.