Feel like no matter how often you brush your teeth, they still look anything but white? While you know that coffee, soft drinks, berries, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and red wine (*sob*) will all change the color of your chompers, they aren’t the only culprits. Here are nine sneaky teeth-stainers:
While it may be just what you need on a hot day, lemonade’s combo of acid and sugar can really mess with your smile. “The acidity in the lemonade can actually erode or wear away the enamel,” says Nancy Rosen, a New York City dentist specializing in cosmetic, general, and restorative dentistry. “When you don’t have a lot of enamel or the enamel is worn away, you go to the next layer, which is called the dentin—and that in itself is actually very yellow.”
2. Sports Drinks
While blue Gatorade has a much more diluted color than coffee or tea, guzzling the stuff down can still leave your teeth less than pristine. “The sugar level also makes all types of bacteria grow,” says Karoush Maddahi, a restorative and cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills and author of The Hidden Epidemic: Restoring Oral Health, One Smile at a Time. “Not only does it stain your teeth, but it also causes problems with decaying teeth because of the sugar content.”
3. White Wine
While red wine is much worse, the white stuff can also stain when combined with certain foods. Say you have a glass (or two) before dinner, and then you eat pasta with tomato sauce. “It’s almost like opening up the pores of the teeth for the stain to actually be sucked in,” says Rosen.
4. Green Juices and Smoothies
Juices and smoothies are great for you bod, but depending on what you load them up with, they can be not-so-stellar for your teeth. A general rule of thumb: “Anything that really stains your clothes, that’s really difficult to get out, stains your teeth as well,” says Maddahi. Smoothies are usually packed with bright berries and vegetables that have teeth-tainting qualities. Good news: That doesn’t mean you have to skip your favorite breakfast staple. Drinking any juice or smoothie through a thick straw will help deter staining, says Maddahi.
5. Green Tea
Black or brown teas often turn teeth yellow or gray, but Rosen says even lighter green teas can leave similar stains. The best way to avoid that? Brush those babies 30 minutes after eating or drinking anything that could do harm, says Maddahi. (Cleaning those fangs within 30 minutes of eating or drinking something acidic can actually erode them more.)
For all you dedicated swimmers out there, the pool may be the reason you’ve noticed a not-so-cute brown hue to your grin. “When you are a swimmer, a lot of times you keep your mouth open or let water into the mouth, and those chemicals that treat the pool can actually cause a brown stain in the mouth,” says Rosen. Keep in mind this will only affect your teeth if you spend more than six hours a week in the chemically-treated water (which is definitely possible during the summer months).
7. Traumatic Injuries
Fractured or chipped teeth can be a serious pain during and after the healing process. But if you play a sport and suffer any injury to the mouth, your smile’s shine might take a hit, too. “Any time there is any type of trauma to your teeth, the nerve of your tooth can die and your tooth starts to gray out,” says Maddahi.
8. Certain Medications
Injuries aren’t the only health woe that can cause stains. Taking medications for extended periods of time or undergoing serious procedures, like chemo or radiation treatments, can alter the blood flow to the tooth, changing its color from within, says Maddahi.
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