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Which foods stain teeth the worst?

Foods with dark pigments have the greatest potential to stain teeth. Teas, coffee and red wine have high stain potential. Of course, smoking and chewing tobaccos may be the worst tooth staining offenders and they are known to be serious health risks.

The “foods” that are most likely to stain your teeth are actually beverages. Dark-colored drinks like colas (Pepsi, Coke, and their diet versions) can leave stains on your teeth. Tea and coffee can also lead to your teeth taking on a yellowish, or darker, color. Finally, wine, especially red wine, may stain your teeth as well. A simple way to prevent tooth discoloration is to reduce the amount of cola, tea, coffee, and red wine in your diet. Another option to think about is to simply brush your teeth (or at least rinse your mouth out) after having one of these beverages.

If you are concerned about the unusually dark or yellowish color of your teeth, talk to your dentist. He or she will be able to help you figure out what may be causing the discoloration and suggest ways to improve the color of your teeth.
Jonathan B. Levine, DMD
Prosthodontics
You probably already know what the highly pigmented staining culprits are for teeth: red wine, coffee and tea. But there are others that might not be as obvious, but are just as staining. These include blueberries, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce and certain fruit juices (grape and cranberry).
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Certain foods will stain your teeth as easily as a new puppy will stain the carpet. The culprits include red wine, coffee, tea, blueberries, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, and grape and cranberry juice.

We don't want you to avoid these foods because of their obvious health benefits, but here's how to combat their staining ways:
  • When you eat staining foods, keep a glass of water handy. Swishing and sipping after every couple of bites or slurps will help decrease the chance of staining.
  • Never skip a bedtime brush, and brush your teeth as soon as possible after a staining meal. Here's where a travel toothbrush comes in handy.
  • Add stain-fighting foods to your meals. Some foods can actually remove tooth stains, or help prevent them. Apples, celery, and carrots act as a natural stain remover, while greens such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce create a film over your teeth and act as a barrier against staining.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.