Foods and Drinks That Brighten Your Teeth

You know the saying, “You are what you eat.” And healthy teeth are essential, just like a healthy body. However, many people are not just looking to keep their teeth healthy — they’re looking for whiter teeth, too.

Since your gums and teeth can be a reflection of your overall health, what you put in your mouth influences how healthy your smile is. In contrast, your food and lifestyle habits, like drinking wine, tea or coffee or smoking, can cause yellowing or discoloration of your teeth.

Although whitening your teeth with professional dental products and services, as we offer here at Anderson Dental Group, will work best, the foods and beverages you eat and drink — or choose to avoid — can impact how healthy and white your teeth are.

Therefore, to illuminate your smile naturally, you can try eating some foods and drinking some beverages that could brighten your teeth, and steer clear of those that stain or yellow your teeth.

Effects of Having or Not Having White Teeth

Research shows people perceive those with healthy teeth as being both more successful in their careers and socially essential.

Also, in a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), 99.7 percent of adults said they value a healthy, white smile as socially important, and nearly 74 percent felt an unattractive smile could harm the success of their careers.

foods and drinks that whiten and stain your teeth infographic

10 Foods and Drinks That Brighten Teeth

Certain foods whiten teeth naturally, according to the AACD. These can effectively clean and brighten your teeth, as well as protect them and your gums from bacteria.

Before getting into the 10 foods and drinks that can stain your teeth below, let’s first take a look at 10 foods that whiten teeth.

1. Pineapples

Whiten your teeth naturally with pineapples. The enzyme bromelain in pineapples works like a natural stain remover. It helps break up plaque — the sticky bacterial film that accumulates on the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque bacteria produce acids that potentially erode tooth enamel, resulting in dental cavities.

2. Cheese

Cheese is rich in calcium, protein and phosphorus, all of which help buffer mouth acids. Phosphorus and calcium also help repair and remineralize your teeth. While you’re brightening up your smile with cheese, opt for a low-fat cheese to also reduce the saturated fat harming your heart.

3. Baking Soda

A 2008 study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry found toothpaste containing baking soda helps remove plaque better than toothpaste without. Baking soda has been a teeth-whitening home remedy for a while now.

4. Strawberries

Although strawberries are red in color, don’t let that fool you. A key component of strawberries, malic acid, works like a natural astringent, removing tooth surface discoloration. Regardless of how you eat them — in desserts, cereal or salads — you’re potentially whitening your teeth at the same time. You may even mash up a strawberry and put it on your toothbrush.

5. Broccoli

Consume the crunchy florets of broccoli raw, rather than cooking them. As you chew the broccoli, the nutritional florets work like a toothbrush, cleaning your teeth naturally. Not to mention, the veggie has high iron levels which coat your tooth enamel, warding off things like:

  • Harmful bacteria
  • Stains
  • Acid erosion

It’s a win-win — you get nutritional value out of the vegetable and clean, brighter-looking teeth.

6. Seeds and Nuts

Altogether, nuts and seeds work as teeth “exfoliants.” Try stripping stains from your tooth enamel with the abrasive texture of:

  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds

Nuts and seeds can also help buff away discoloration to make the surface of your teeth appear whiter. Sesame seeds, in particular, are good for “scrubbing” plaque off your teeth. They also contain tooth- and bone-strengthening calcium.

7. Apples

You’re not just keeping the doctor away by eating an apple a day. You might be able to keep the dentist away, too. Because apples are crunchy, they work like a natural abrasive scrub, cleaning your teeth when you’re chomping on them. Like strawberries, apples also have a high malic acid concentration often found in certain kinds of toothpaste. This acid promotes extra saliva, helping remove and prevent tooth stains while cleaning your teeth.

8. Oranges

When it comes to tooth health, the peel is more valuable than the fruit. Orange peels, contrary to popular belief, are not acidic like the rest of the orange. The fruit’s peel contains vitamin C variants presenting an alternative to harsh teeth whiteners. Wash the peel thoroughly and rub the white, inner part of the peel across the surface of your teeth to help minimize plaque and tackle tartar buildup.

9. Celery

Similar to apples, celery is another crunchy food to help create extra saliva, preventing the development of plaque stains tend to stick to.

10. Water

Water is one of the drinks that whiten teeth. It not only keeps you hydrated, but it also helps prevent the formation of stains on your teeth. Swish some water in your mouth after you eat or drink pigment-rich foods or fluids to maintain a brighter, whiter smile. Water additionally lowers the overall acidity in your mouth, reducing the chances of damaged tooth enamel. Since sparkling water tends to increase the likelihood of tooth surface erosion, stick with flat water.

10 Foods and Drinks That Stain Teeth

Just like the way certain foods can help whiten your teeth naturally, there are also foods that stain teeth and sabotage your bright smile. Pretty much any food that can stain your clothes will likely discolor your teeth.

If you could look through a microscope at your teeth, you’d see they are porous, like a kitchen sponge. When stain-causing foods and drinks become stuck in the nooks, holes and crannies of your teeth, particularly over time, they can cause the development of dark stains.

Here are some foods and beverages to avoid if you want a whiter smile.

1. Coffee

Unfortunately, if you want to keep your teeth pearly white, you may have to give up your morning cup of java. Coffee contains acidic polyphenols, or tannins, causing discoloration and staining. Also, since it’s acidic, it alters your mouth’s pH balance, leading to tooth damage more quickly when you consume acidic foods after drinking the beverage.

2. Acidic and Citrus Foods

If your teeth have a yellowish tinge on them, it may be due to acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits. Although they are full of essential nutrients, these types of foods can erode your tooth enamel, exposing the yellow-hued dentin — tissue underneath your tooth enamel made up of primarily phosphate crystals and calcium.

3. Dark Dressings

Soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and other darker dressings can leave a purplish hue on your teeth. For a tasty substitute to help keep your teeth brighter, try using the lighter dressings like olive oil or rice vinegar. Prevention magazine reported about a study where teenagers who ate vinegar-laden foods had an up to 85 percent increased enamel erosion risk.

4. Red Wine

If you like to indulge in a glass of red wine at dinnertime, chances are you’ve seen the immediate dark stain on your teeth afterward. That’s because red wine’s color and its tannins stick to your teeth surface, stain your enamel and cause your teeth to look darker. You can counterbalance the red wine’s staining effects by eating cheese with your wine. Brushing your teeth afterward should help, too.

5. White Wine

While it appears innocent enough, indulging in a glass of sauvignon blanc can also take away some of the whiteness of your teeth. A study claims the lighter type of wine can make stains on your teeth darker. Therefore, although the light wine isn’t the cause of the stains itself, its acid content causes tiny pockets on your tooth surface, allowing other discoloring beverages to seep in deeper.

6. Soda

Beverages full of sugar work similar to sugar-laden snacks — providing the bacteria in your mouth lots to eat and helping release damaging acids. Particularly dangerous are dark-colored sodas, since they’re acidic and can create holes in your teeth. Sugar-free soda isn’t any better.

7. Tea

Like coffee, tea contains tannins. Therefore, when you sip that cup of chamomile, it could result in stains on your teeth. It also affects the hue it places on your teeth. For example, if you drink green tea, it can cause a gray stain on your teeth, while black tea stains your teeth yellow. If you love your green tea and can’t do without it, opt for a high-quality option. Also, you might want to add a little milk to your cup. As with coffee, adding milk can help reduce tea’s ability to stain your teeth.

8. Pomegranates, Blueberries and Blackberries

Although chock-full of antioxidants, these foods can also stain your teeth. If you’ve ever enjoyed an afternoon snack of these dark-colored fruits and accidentally gotten some of the juice on your clothes, you know how hard it can be to remove the stain. Well, from that example, you can see how it would be just as tough to get the discoloration out of your teeth.

9. Sweets

The sugar in tasty sweet treats like hard candy and cookies latch on to your teeth, becoming the main dish for mouth bacteria. As bacteria feed off sugar, they release acids, causing tooth decay and making your teeth appear darker.

10. Tomato Sauce

Because it’s porous, your tooth enamel is especially vulnerable to absorbing acidic and dark-colored beverages and foods — including red tomato sauce.

Other Tips for a White Smile

Along with eating teeth-whitening foods and beverages, and avoiding the ones that stain, you should follow these helpful tips to whiten teeth as well.

  1. Brush your teeth twice daily. A great way to keep your mouth healthy and your teeth white is to brush your teeth twice a day — remember to brush your tongue, too. Bacteria may build up on the back of your tongue, spreading to your teeth and causing discoloration. There are also special tools available to help scrape your tongue. When brushing, you may want to use whitening toothpaste and brush your teeth in circles.
  2. Replace your toothbrush. The shelf life of your toothbrush should only be a few months. When you don’t purchase a new toothbrush, it can build up bacteria, which transfer into your mouth. When you notice the bristles wearing down or becoming worn and soft, it’s time to replace your brush.
  3. Eat raw vegetables and fruits. While you know raw veggies and fruits are healthy for your body, they’re also good for your teeth. As mentioned earlier, when you crunch on raw vegetables and fruits, your mouth produces more saliva, washing away bacteria and whitening teeth naturally. Plus, eating green vegetables like kale or broccoli will further help protect your teeth due to their minerals.
  4. Swish your mouth with water after eating. Immediately after you eat, take a mouthful of water and swish it around to wash away any food stuck in your teeth and help prevent stains.
  5. Use whitening toothpaste. While regularly visiting the dentist is important to remove stains and plaque, you can help the process along by using whitening toothpaste daily. Many kinds of toothpaste contain special ingredients to scrub your teeth gently to remove stains, making them perfect for use between professional cleanings and whitenings. Some even contain hydrogen peroxide to help eliminate stains and make teeth whiter.
  6. Protect your enamel. When you have weak enamel, you won’t have as bright of a smile as you’d like. The American Dental Association says enamel is a hard substance naturally, but it can’t repair itself when it breaks down, since there are no living cells in it. Once oral disease affects your enamel, you can’t restore it, and when you have weak enamel, your teeth become more vulnerable to stains. Because of this, enamel protection like fluoride is vital. You’ll find fluoride in just about every toothpaste designed to fight against wear and tear from acidic foods and drinks and strengthen your enamel. That means fewer stains on weak tooth enamel.
  7. Get a professional teeth-whitening treatment. While all the tips mentioned above help keep your teeth white, the fastest route to brighter teeth is to have a dentist whiten them professionally. Dentists use specially designed devices combining LED light with peroxide, or other types of treatment, to help get your teeth up to eight shades lighter. Your dentist will decide what the best whitening treatment option is for your teeth. While most off-the-shelf whitening strips contain only 10 percent peroxide, professional whitening treatments use up to 20 to 35 percent peroxide under UV light, making them far more effective. You can opt for in-office whitening or take-home whitening kits.
  8. Get regular checkups. Along with professional whitening treatments, you also want to ensure you keep those six-month dental cleanings and checkups. The dentist will check for oral health concerns like gum disease, tooth decay or oral cancer, and will treat them early to ensure there are no future long-term problems.

Contact Anderson Dental for Teeth Whitening and a Dental Checkup

Eating healthy isn’t just a gateway to good health — it is also the key to beautiful teeth. When you make good choices with food and beverages, you’ll be rewarding your smile naturally. Plus, good oral hygiene plays a big role in good overall health. When your oral health is poor, it can lead to other health issues.

Having your teeth repaired, cleaned and whitened professionally can drastically improve your oral hygiene and reduce the destructive bacteria leading to gum disease, cavities and severe periodontitis.

Whether you want to brighten your stained teeth through our in-office teeth-whitening services or have your damaged teeth repaired with restorative appliances, our Payson, Ariz., skilled dentists excel in replacing missing teeth with implants, bridges or dentures or correcting dental irregularities.

We provide state-of-the-art cosmetic dental treatments, including professional teeth whitening, to get rid of any flaws affecting your gums and teeth, leaving you with a beautiful, white smile you’ll want to show off to your family, friends and colleagues. Payson Dental office here at Anderson Dental Group to book your dental exam, cleaning or teeth-whitening appointment today.

Related Resources:

Professional Teeth Whitening Services
Essentials of Preventative Dental Care
Importance of Regular Dental Cleanings


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