Before and after of a dental whitening procedure

Before and after of a dental whitening procedure

We all work really hard to maintain a bright, white smile, but the unfortunate truth is that some of our favorite foods and drinks are not very supportive of that endeavor. If you regularly partake of some of these, you could start to discolor or stain your teeth again – even after a professional whitening. In fact, some studies suggest that the whiteness could start to fade in as little as a month, while those who avoid these stainers can go a year or more without any touchups.

What Causes Those Stains

While the major culprits behind this kind of tooth-staining can be different for different foods, there are some usual suspects that we find in most of them. The three most harmful components are:

  • Tannin – This is an astringent that is also commonly used to tan leather, dye fabric, and make ink. Given that kind of job experience, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that it’s pretty good at adding unwanted colors to your teeth.
  • Chromogen – These are dark colored pigments that can directly impact your teeth. They are also used to create dyes and other colored compounds.
  • Acid – Even mild acids can roughen and soften your enamel, making it more susceptible to discoloration later on.

So What Are The Worst Offenders?

In no particular order, the foods and beverages that are the most likely to discolor your teeth include:

Tea – This beverage is filled with tannins, which is why some studies suggest that it can be worse for your teeth than coffee. Black tea is the most harmful in this respect.

Coffee – While coffee doesn’t have the same level of tannin that we find in tea, it does have plenty of chromogens. These pigments can do to your teeth what they do your porcelain mugs.

Red Wine – This beverage has both chormogens and tannins in very high levels. On top of that, whine is very acidic, so even a white wine can affect the enamel of your teeth, softening it and making it susceptible to other foods and drinks with staining capabilities.

Berries – Fruits are very good for you, but some berries (and the juices made from these berries) have the kind of pigments that can stain your teeth.

Sauces – Tomato sauce, soy sauce, and others can have very strong pigmentation. Combine that with some acidic qualities and some of your favorite sauces may impact your teeth.

Soft Drinks/Sports Drinks – These beverages are very acidic, so even light-colored sodas and sports drinks can set your teeth up for future discoloration.

Tobacco – In this case it isn’t pigments and tannin that cause stains, but tar. Both chewing and smoking tobaccos can cause these kinds of stains.

Maintaining Your Bright Smile

A lot of these stainers make it into our daily diets, so what can we do to protect our teeth from the inevitable discoloration?

There are a few simple tips you can follow to make sure your whitening treatment lasts as long as possible.

  • Use a whitening toothpaste once or twice a week
  • Avoid sticky foods that hold onto your teeth
  • Brush or rinse immediately after consuming any of those stainers
  • Drink through a straw when you can
  • Follow any instructions on the whitening products

Of course, if you need it, you can always set an appointment for a quick touch up. We’ll have you back to your brightest smile in no time.