Tooth whitening procedures are popular today, especially among those who just can’t seem to get that yellow to disappear. Surprisingly, nearly all the drinks we regularly enjoy already contain components that cause our teeth to stain. What are those components?
- Acids soften tooth enamel, allowing for stains to take effect more easily. As the enamel weakens, they add to the yellowing effect, and can make tooth edges appear transparent.
- Chromogens are chemicals or compounds that react with others, like ones already in your mouth, to create a colored end-product. They easily cling to your tooth enamel.
- Tannins are yellow or brown compounds found in many plants. They often mix with other compounds to create stains.
Apart from plain water, most drinks we regularly enjoy have some mix of these components, and therefore could stain our teeth if used above a moderate level. In other words, the more of these drinks you consume, individually or together, the more risk of staining your teeth.
- Black tea, whether hot or iced, contains acids and tannins.
- Coffee might be slightly better than black tea, but it is high in chromogens and acids. (Adding milk or creamer won’t reduce the effect.)
- Sodas have many different components. Cola varieties have more chromogens. Some use tannins. Many clear sodas still use food colorings containing chromogens. Most of them use sugars, but all of them – even the diet ones – are high in acids that weaken your enamel.
- Red wine has documented health benefits. It also has all three components for staining your teeth – it is high in acids, chromogens and tannins.
- White wine doesn’t have much in the way of chromogens, but it is still just as loaded as red wine in the way of acids and tannins.
- Fruit juices also have levels of tannins and chromogens, and sometimes acids. If the fruits themselves (like pomegranates, blueberries, and cherries for instance) stain your teeth when you eat them, rest assured the juice will as well.
What to Do About Tooth Stains
Are we saying you should throw out all these drinks and only have fluoride-infused bottled water with electrolytes for the rest of your life? Of course not! Even our dentists enjoy a coffee, soda or glass of wine, but they also don’t walk around the office wearing a hydration pack filled with these drinks. The key is moderation, and there are other tips you can follow.
- If you are having a “stain” drink, avoid sipping it throughout the day. That gives your teeth repeated “stain treatments.” Sipping your drink through a meal is better, as the mix with food and extra saliva limits the staining effects.
- Try using a straw with your drink. This limits the area that the drink is likely to affect, unless you swish the fluid around your mouth.
- Speaking of swishing, rinse your mouth with a few sips of water after one of these drinks or any heavily colored meal. Use water only to help remove the components that could stain your teeth.
- Go to your regularly scheduled appointment with the Placerville Dental Group. We can help with regular exams, cleanings, teeth whitening treatments, and more.
Even if yellow is your favorite color, your teeth prefer white. And although these drinks might increase the risk of that white fading to yellow, you can still enjoy them, just without excess. If you have any questions about moderating your drinks, preferred types of drinks, or just want to find out more, feel free to call our dentists. We can help you avoid “drinking your teeth yellow.”