We all know the value of a dazzling smile – and the effect a decayed one can have. You’ve probably read all the latest articles about the revolutionary toothpastes and mouthwashes, and you probably get your teeth checked and cleaned by a dentist every few months as well. This is all great, and one of many stepping stones to that perfect, pearly white smile. But there are other, hidden things that you do or eat every single day that will be eroding the whiteness of that smile – by staining it.
Not surprisingly, it’s the highly coloured foods and drinks that tend to be the culprits, once you take smoking out of the equation. That’s because the colouring in these foods comes from things called chromogens, incredibly intensely pigmented molecules that have a taste for tooth enamel. The acidity of what we eat and drink is a contributor too, but not for the reasons you think. It’s actually because the acidity slowly erodes our protective tooth enamel, making it rough and thin. This makes it easier for the chromogens to attach to the teeth, and increases their staining power.
This might seem obvious, but here’s the twist – it’s not just red wine! Red wine is notorious for staining pretty much anything it touches, teeth and lips included. But white wine is just as guilty, despite the fact it doesn’t have much colour. That’s because, while it doesn’t directly stain your teeth, it is still very acidic and weakens the tooth enamel, promoting easy staining. So if you’re mixing drinks this evening, avoid the white wine!
This can sometimes be difficult to comprehend, I mean, tea is just slightly coloured water right? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Tea, especially when drunk black, is rich in teeth staining tannins, more so than coffee. Tea is a pretty aggressive stainer all around. If you ever want to test this for yourself, pour a cup of black tea over a white sheet of paper, and then let it dry. The result is what your teeth go through every time you drink tea (although herbal teas, green teas and white teas are known to be less aggressive)
Ok, you might have seen this one coming. Coke or cola is the double whammy of a highly acidic plus chromogen rich drink, simultaneously weakening your teeth and staining them. Cola and other soft drinks have a similar acidity to battery acid (which might make it less nice to drink!), and those who sip away at coke all day tend to have the worst stained teeth. Just drop a penny in a glass to see it’s chemical stripping power!
Sports Energy Drinks
This is a relatively new discovery, but those wonderful super hydrating sports drinks are really high in acids, which soften the enamel and the tooth beneath, creating the perfect canvas for staining.
This one’s a shocker, right? Any of the highly coloured berries (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, cherries, grapes, pomegranates, strawberries) are packed full of chromogens just waiting to attack your teeth. Cooking them down doesn’t help either – any food or drink made from them still has all that colour to throw at your poor teeth, so be careful with grandma’s blackberry pie!
This is one most of us don’t really think about, but tomatoes aren’t really that red. Similarly, brown sauce isn’t that pure brown when it’s made and curry sauce is usually much paler. All of these bright, colourful table sauces are full of artificial colours, and that means chromogens just like natural colours. They are also full of sugar, so will not only stain your teeth, but rot them too.
So, to sum up, these 6 things are sure to contribute to the browning of those lovely teeth you work so hard to protect, even if you don’t think they will. The rule of thumb is this – if you are afraid of spilling it on your white tablecloth, it’s almost certain to stain your teeth!