5 Ways Most People Don’t Realize They’re Staining Their Teeth

It's not just coffee, cigarettes, and red wine that can dull a bright smile. Here are five lesser-known causes of yellow teeth.

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Keeping your teeth white is harder than it seems. You have to brush at least twice a day, floss regularly, and be willing to give up foods or beverages that may stain your teeth.

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We all know that coffee, tea, and red wine can dim your smile’s brightness. But do you know about some of the other culprits? Here are five ways that people stain their teeth without realizing it.

1. Eating Seedy Fruits

Blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranates may be good for your body, but they’re hard on your enamel. It’s not just the sugar they contain, but it’s also chromogens, which have a dark pigment that stains things easily.

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If you like berries too much to skip them, then consider rinsing your mouth with water after you finish eating. This will minimize the staining that occurs.

You could also consider adding strawberries to your berry bowl. “Strawberries contain a malic acid, which can safely dissolve surface stains on teeth,” according to dentist Gerry Curatola.

2. Using Curry Powder or Other Intensely Colored Spices

Turmeric is a plant that provides the deep yellow pigment that is found in most curry powders. Regular use of curry powder can stain your teeth over time. If you don’t want to give up the yummy Indian spice blend, you can lessen the damage by mixing in things that prevent stains, like carrots, cauliflower, and celery.

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Eating an apple or other crunchy food afterward can help reduce staining. Eating broccoli or kale before you eat curry creates a protective film on your teeth.

3. Using Balsamic Vinegar as Your Go-to Dressing

Health advocates often recommend using balsamic dressings for salads because they are low in fat and calories. Unfortunately, they can really darken your teeth.

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Because balsamic vinegar has a dark color and coats the teeth, it’s especially prone to staining your would-be pearly whites. Using a crisp lettuce in your salad and including croutons and other crunchy ingredients will help scrape the residue off your teeth.

Rinsing your mouth with water afterward will also help reduce the staining power of balsamic vinegar.

4. Eating Red Pasta Sauce

As with the other foods on this list, tomato sauce has a dark color and clings to your chompers. Even worse, it is highly acidic, which can erode tooth enamel.

Other tomato-based products, such as ketchup, salsa, and hot sauce, carry the same risks. You don’t have to give up all your favorite foods, though. Just be aware that they contribute to staining. If you eat a tomato-based sauce, be extra sure to brush your teeth carefully that night to reduce staining.

5. Taking Certain Antibiotics

Tetracycline antibiotics, which include minocycline and doxycycline, can cause major staining in the teeth of children. Children under 10 years old and pregnant women should never take these antibiotics.

If you’re over age 10 and not pregnant, you don’t have to worry about these medications staining your teeth. Tetracyclines can have other side effects, though, such as light sensitivity, skin reactions, and anaphylaxis.

There is nothing more essential to keeping your teeth white than brushing and flossing.

You can help reduce staining by knowing which foods cause stains and taking steps to reduce the effects.

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Eating crunchy foods or rinsing your mouth after eating can help, and brushing before you go to bed will diminish the appearance of stains.

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