We all know the basic rules to keep our pearly whites, well, white. No smoking or coffee or red wine, and diligent flossing after every meal. Sounds like no fun at all, but we know it's what we have to do if we want to have a dazzling smile. But what if we were staining our teeth without even realising it? Coffee and nicotine are not the only causes of staining. There are other foods in our diet, or habits we practice, that may leave their mark on our teeth. If you feel like no matter how often you brush or floss your teeth or avoid those teeth stainers listed above, your teeth are still not as bright as they should be, then maybe it's time to reexamine your daily habits and the food you eat. Here are some things you might be doing to stain your teeth without even realising it.
1. SIPPING ON LEMONADE
Lemonade may be a refreshing drink for hot weather, but its combination of acid and sugar can spell trouble for your teeth. The acidity in the lemonade erodes the tooth enamel, revealing the next layer called the dentin, which in itself is very yellow. Add sugar to the mix and you've got double the staining when it sticks to your teeth.
2. HAVING ONE TOO MANY CUPS OF GREEN TEA
Like coffee, black or brown teas can turn teeth yellow or even grey. But even green tea, which is lower in tannin content than black or brown teas, can cause staining. To avoid this, brush your teeth about half an hour after eating or drinking anything that can harm or stain your teeth. Try not to brush within 30 minutes of eating or drinking, particularly anything acidic, because that can erode your teeth further.
3. GARGLING WITH MOUTHWASH
Most mouthwashes contain a component called chlorhexidine gluconate, which can cause staining. Regular use of certain types of mouthwash can cause the chlorhexidine to react chemically with food particles caught in your teeth, resulting in brown stains. Consult your dentist on whether you should continue using those mouthwashes, because those with gingivitis may rely on mouthwash to reduce plaque. But if the stains are bothering you, opt for a product that contains non-staining cetylpyridinium chloride instead of chlorhexidine.
4. GULPING DOWN GREEN JUICES OR BERRY SMOOTHIES
Juices and smoothies may be great for your body, but not necessarily so for your teeth, depending on what you toss into your beverages. Anything that stains your clothes and is difficult to remove will stain your teeth as well, and juices and smoothies are typically loaded with berries and vegetables that tend to stain teeth. The good news is, you don't have to cut them out entirely. Just drink them through a straw to avoid getting them on your teeth.
5. DIPPING IN TOO MUCH SOY SAUCE
Soy sauce is almost a staple condiment for most Asian meals, but it is a sneaky teeth-stainer too, thanks to it highly saturated colouring. (The high sodium content is another reason to lay off it too.) So go easy on your salty dip, and rinse your mouth after eating it to prevent it from staining your teeth.
6. GOING BERRY-CRAZY
There's nothing wrong with loading up on this superfood, especially blueberries. They are chock-full of antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties. However, whatever the colour, they also contain a huge amount of colour pigments that can stick to your tooth enamel and stain your teeth.
Still, that's not enough a big reason to give up berries and their health benefits. Just make sure you rinse your mouth after eating them.
7. DRINKING TOO MUCH WHITE WINE
Red wine contains tannins that stain teeth, but white is no better. Wine is acidic, so it erodes the enamel and makes the teeth surface less even, thus making it easier for pigments to latch on. When combined with equally staining sauces or sweet foods (for instance, spaghetti bolognese or chocolate cake), you're practically opening up your teeth for stains to stick onto your teeth.
8. SNACKING ON STARCHY FOOD
It's near impossible to stop at just one potato chip or roasted nut, but bad news for snackers: these starchy snacks (yes, nuts contain carbs too) may be the reason for your stained teeth. The bacteria found in plaque breaks down starchy foods into acid, which in turns erodes and stains your teeth. Be sure to floss after having starchy foods so as to remove any particles that may be stuck between your teeth.
9. SWIMMING IN CHLORINATED POOLS
While clocking laps in the pool brings great health benefits, it can also be the reason for the brown tinge on your teeth. When you are swimming, you may tend to let water into your mouth, allowing the chemicals that treat the water to leave a brown stain on your teeth. The longer you stay in the pool (more than six hours a week), the more severe the staining may be.
10. INJURING YOUR MOUTH
Any time your teeth suffers from trauma - be it fracturing or chipping - the nerve of your tooth may die, causing your tooth to turn grey and eventually fall out. If you play contact sports such as football, rugby or hockey, make sure to wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth against potential harm.
If you do injure your mouth and have to take certain medications for a long period of time, those medications may possibly affect blood circulation to the mouth and teeth, thus changing its colour from within.
This article was first published in Her World.