Six Surprising Foods That Stain Teeth

  • Posted on: Feb 21 2015

Certain food and drinks work against us when it comes to keeping a shining white smile. Brightly colored beverages and bites are often the biggest offenders, yet you may be surprised at some of the other culprits that make the list.

Most teeth staining is caused by chromogens. Chromogens are intensely pigmented molecules that latch on to dental enamel.

While some foods contain the presence of chromogens and stain directly, other foods act as catalysts spurring chromogens on. Acidic foods and beverages soften teeth temporarily—eroding the dental enamel and making it easier for chromogens to attach. Foods containing tannins also increase chromogens ability to latch on to enamel and stain.

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Which foods and drinks stain the most?

Before we get to the food surprises, did you know that the top three teeth staining culprits are actually drinks? Number one is black coffee, number two is tea, and number three is red wine.

Here are six other things that can stain teeth:

1. Soy Sauce
Dark liquids used to flavor foods, such as soy sauce, contribute to staining. Try topping your sushi with ginger to ease up on the soy and follow this rule of thumb: if something will stain your napkin, it will likely stain your teeth.

2. Cola
Soft drinks are both chromogen-rich and acidic so they are prone to cause significant staining. Try a seltzer water with a splash of lime instead of a cola or at least sip through a straw to minimize discoloration.

3. Balsamic Vinegar
This salad topper is dark in color and on the list of teeth stainers. Use sparingly or try a lighter-colored vinegar (such as rice vinegar) on your next house salad.

4. Tomato Sauce
The acidity in tomato-based sauces may lead to increased staining. Try eating a spinach salad before your next pasta dish. It may form a protective film over teeth preventing stains from seeping into your teeth’s pores.

5. Curry
Red and yellow curry is as vibrant as it is dangerous for staining teeth. (Though incredibly delicious too!) If you indulge in a good curry-inspired dish, make sure to brush your teeth right after.

6. Sports Drinks
These are highly acidic and can soften tooth enamel to set the stage for staining. Follow with water to help reduce risk of stains.

The best thing to do to protect pearly whites is to avoid staining foods altogether. To help reduce impact, you can also swish with water, chew sugar free gum, and brush directly after consuming.

To keep your smile as bright and beautiful as possible, give us a call. We have tooth whitening options to help!

Published by: Grand Rapids Dentistry Blog – A Life of Smiles
A Grand Rapids, Michigan based cosmetic, general & sedation dentistry


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