Monday, February 18, 2013

Lighten Up (Your Teeth)

A few days ago, I received an email with some information on teeth stains from a PR firm, T.J. Sacks & Associates, on behalf of Manhattan Dental Arts. As someone who drinks too much tea and coffee, it was something I was actually excited to learn about! 

I figured I'd share the information since it's good to know which foods can stain your teeth (the "dirty dozen"). And, besides the obvious tooth brushing and flossing, there are foods that can actually help lighten your teeth!

Obviously, several of the staining foods are healthy foods that are great to include in your diet. But knowing their staining potential is still important. For example, maybe you try to rinse your mouth out or brush your teeth after eating berries or beets.

So, here are some of the best and worst foods for teeth stains!

  1. Black Coffee and Black Tea - The darker the beverage, the more staining that can occur. Try adding a little extra milk to lighten the color and reduce the staining effect.
  2. Wine - Both red and white wines, if drunk in excess, will stain your teeth. Although red stains, white wine’s acidic composition actually etches tiny grooves in your teeth making them more porous and more easily stained.
  3. Colas and Sports Drinks - Because they are so highly acidic, they help promote staining by other foods.
  4. Berries - Blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries and other berries, although excellent for your overall health, can stain your teeth. So, if you’re crazy for berries, be sure to rinse out your mouth thoroughly with water after eating.
  5. Beets - Now here’s a vegetable that could put a powerful stain in your t-shirt, so, like all foods that stain, moderation is called for with this one.
  6. Sauces - Soy sauce and tomato sauce, as well as other deeply colored sauces, are believed to have significant staining potential. 
  7. Juice - Grape, pomegranate and cranberry are highly pigmented and can cause staining.  So, if you must imbibe, try rinsing your mouth out with water or drinking juices through a straw, thereby bypassing the fronts of your teeth
  8. Pickles and ketchup - These acidic foods are good at opening up the pores of your tooth enamel, allowing for easy staining.
  9. Balsamic Vinegar - While great on a salad, balsamic vinegar causes havoc to your teeth.  If you must, try it on lettuce, which has a natural ability to provide a protective film over your teeth.
  10. Candy - Sweets contain teeth-staining coloring agents. If your tongue turns a funny color, there’s a good chance that your teeth will too.
  11. Curry - Although great in Indian food, this yellow-staining spice mix can be harsh on teeth. So make sure to rinse thoroughly after eating.
  12. Popsicles - Did you ever look at your tongue after you’ve finished your fruity, sugary pop? Not only does it color your tongue, but also your teeth.  Plus, it has added double whammy negative effect produced by all of that sugar. So, limit your intake and rinse with water after finishing.

  1. Apples and Pears - Increase salivary production, which flushes away stains over time.
  2. Pineapple - Acts as a natural stain remover.
  3. Carrots - Contain vitamin A which is needed for healthy tooth enamel.
  4. Cauliflower and cucumbers - Also help to increase salivary production the natural way to flush away stains.
  5. Green vegetables - Things like broccoli, lettuce and spinach contain iron, which helps form an acid-resistant film or barrier that can protect the enamel on your teeth.
  6. Shiitake Mushrooms - Help inhibit bacteria from growing in your mouth.
  7. Onions - Help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.
  8. Cheese - Rich in protein, calcium and phosphorus, all of which can help safeguard the acids in your mouth.
  9. Salmon - Provides calcium and vitamin D, nutrients needed for healthy bones and teeth.
  10. Poppy and Sesame Seeds - Help scrub away plaque.
  11. Ginger - Acts as an anti-inflammatory to support healthy mouth tissue.
  12. Basil - A natural antibiotic that reduces bacteria in the mouth.

Do you eat many of the staining foods? I eat most of them, besides sodas, candy, and popsicles, so I guess I need to be more vigilant with my post-meal tooth brushing (instead of just morning and night) and eat more of the foods that will help lighten my teeth.

P.S. I should have some exciting news tomorrow on the blog!!


  1. I'd never thought of the possibility of tooth lightening foods! How exciting, because I'm a sucker for coffee, tea and red wine. Luckily, I'm also a big fan of the items on the lightening list. Also - looking forward to your exciting news!

    1. I thought I was ok sticking to white wine but apparently not. Boooo! And Michelle, I'm going to be needing extra tips from your training logs and fueling recipes -- you'll see why if you read tomorrow's post :)

  2. Thank you for the tips! I never even knew there were foods that could help with this!

    1. I know, I was so surprised! But it's good to know -- balance the coffee with an apple or something?

  3. No wonder my teeth hate me... Lol. I feel like that whole list was written for me. Can't wait to hear about this news!! That's just mean of you to keep me in suspense like that

  4. Great info! We always hear what is bad for our teeth, but rarely was is good for them! Tahnks

    1. Hey Sarah! I know, sometimes it seems like everything has a negative effect on our teeth! I thought it was helpful to know that some foods could help :)

  5. Whenever I go to the dentist, they tell me to ease off the coffee--not a chance! ;) I've never heard of teeth-lightening foods. I eat lots of apples and carrots, so hopefully that reverses some of the damage.

    1. Haha I know! At least I put lots of soy milk in mine, apparently if it's lighter it's less staining? Who knew! My ridiculous inability to handle black coffee might actually be a good thing ;)