Foods that whiten and foods that stain teeth

The whiteness or dullness of our teeth does depend on our food choices- certain foods can brighten our teeth giving them a healthy white sheen while other foods can cause yellowing and discoloration of teeth.

To achieve a healthy, white smile that improves your appearance and giving you more self-confidence, choose from the following foods suggested by the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry:

Foods that whiten teeth

Carrots – The crunchiness and chewing of a carrot stimulates saliva production naturally cleaning your mouth.  The vitamin A content also aids in establishing healthy tooth enamel.

Cheese – There’s a reason why we smile big and say “cheese” for the camera.  Cheese loves our teeth - rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, these nutrients help buffer the acids in your mouth.  Both calcium and phosphorus help build strong teeth and assist in remineralization of your teeth. 

Shitake mushrooms – There is a little known compound called lentinan helping to keep bacteria from growing in our mouths.

Salmon – Here is another good source of calcium and a natural source of vitamin D – both necessary for healthy teeth.

Pineapples – This exotic fruit contains an enzyme called bromelain acting as a natural stain remover helping to whiten teeth.  Bromelain gets rid of plaque, a sticky film that coats teeth and contains bacteria.  The bacteria produce acids eroding the enamel of teeth leading to dental caries.

Sesame seeds – You’ve heard of facial scrubs right?  Chewing seeds is like a natural tooth scrub getting rid of plaque buildup.  Calcium found in sesame seeds lends itself to keeping teeth strong and healthy.

Onions – Onions contain two sulfur compounds, thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates, which reduce tooth decaying bacteria.  The trick though is to eat onions raw as the two compounds are destroyed by cooking.  If eating raw onions isn’t your thing, try garlic as it contains the same sulfur compounds.

Ginger – Ginger’s power is its anti-inflammatory abilities.  Periodontal disease is an anti-inflammatory disease causing loss of bone and supportive connective tissue in the mouth.  Acting as anti-inflammatory compound, ginger can aid in healthy mouth tissue.

Foods that stain teeth

Coffee and tea – Our tooth enamel contains microscopic pits and ridges that can hold pigments of dark-colored beverages like coffee and tea.  The pigments become embedded in the cracks and ridges which can cause permanent staining.  Don’t like the looks of a “coffee smile?”  Fortunately you don’t have to give up coffee or tea completely, go ahead and have your cup or two just avoid sipping it constantly throughout the day.  Brush teeth soon after finishing a cup of coffee or tea to prevent staining. 

Lemonade – On occasion, lemonade is a refreshing beverage but if it becomes a more frequent habit, watch out.  The acidity in lemonade can erode tooth enamel to the point of exposing the next layer, the dentin, which has a yellow cast.

Red and white wine – Red wine is pretty straightforward why it can stain teeth – it is a mix of natural dyes, acids, and tannin all which etch and stain your nice white smile.  White wine also has acids eroding tooth enamel stripping the protective coating and etching micro channels in the teeth.  All that acid can soften the teeth so it’s best to not brush vigorously after wine tasting.  Instead drink some water after sipping wine removing acids from your mouth. 

Bright berries - Basically any berry that can stain your clothing can stain your teeth.  That does not mean you have to give up eating health-promoting berries – just be sure to brush your teeth or eat a carrot afterwards to reduce stain formation.