The holidays are a great time to celebrate, but they can also involve a lot of food and beverages that stain your teeth. If you’re looking to start the new year with a smile as white as snow, it pays to watch what you eat and drink. Coffee, hot chocolate and red wine are popular culprits for tooth stains, and they’re all at the top of the list for those celebrating winter holidays. Yet we have some tips that will keep your smile white and allow you to enjoy the season. Let’s learn more about how to prevent tooth stains now and all throughout the year.
There are a lot of foods out there that can stain your teeth. Some you might not even immediately think of as a staining agent. Here’s a list of foods and drinks that can stain your teeth:
Whew, that is a pretty intimidating list! Even some of the foods on that list are even considered healthy. So what should you do? Well moderation is always important, and its something that dentists constantly preach. The more often you expose your teeth to these staining agents, the faster that white smile will fade. You can also counteract some of the staining by eating fibrous vegetables alongside the staining foods and drinks. Water is another important tool to fight staining.
Simply put, the longer a staining agent stays on your teeth, the more it stains. Rinsing with water after you consume anything that stains your teeth is a great move to lessen the impact and prevent tooth stains. For example, if you have a glass of water with your morning coffee, you can rinse a lot of the staining liquid away from your teeth before it has a chance to sit too long. Staying hydrated helps with your overall oral health as well, so it’s always good to drink water regularly throughout your day.
For a bonus tip, using a straw can keep a lot of the staining fluids off your teeth. This makes it a little safer to enjoy liquids that stain your teeth. We recommend biodegradable straws as they won’t impact the environment like plastic ones.
Tooth whitening is a great tool you and your dentist can use to keep your teeth white. But not all tooth whitening processes are created equal. Brushing daily with a whitening toothpaste can help reduce stains, but since the toothpaste is only on your teeth for 2-3 minutes, it can only whiten so much. The same goes for mouthwashes with whitening agents. White strips are a better option as they stay on your teeth longer. Yet for the best whitening option available, you’ll want to speak to your dentist about in office whitening. They will evaluate whether or not your teeth are ready for this procedure.
A word of caution for everyone about whitening and bleaching teeth - you can only do it so much. Applying bleaching agents can temporarily open up pores in your teeth, which helps reach stains that have penetrated your teeth. But this also has a side effect, your teeth are more vulnerable to staining during this time as well. For example, you certainly don’t want to use white strips or brush your teeth with whitening toothpaste and drink red wine directly after. You need to give your teeth some time to recover. Those that use in office whitening treatments are advised to avoid all the staining foods we listed above for several days. This gives the bleaching time to work and your teeth time to recover before consuming any staining foods again.
One other note, bleaching agents can cause pain for those with sensitive teeth and cavities. It is not advised that you use whitening treatments until these issues have been treated by your dentist. For more information, contact your local dentist for a checkup and consultation on whitening.
Realistically it’s hard to say you should avoid all the staining foods listed above every day of your life. It simply isn’t practical. But you do need to exercise moderation and determine how often you want to eat these foods. For example, if white teeth are a big goal of yours, then it is probably time to quit your daily coffee habits to achieve best results. We advise working with your dentist to determine a whitening plan that works for your individual needs and budget. Contact Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry to schedule a personalized assessment today!