There are many causes of stained teeth. Most people are aware that smoking and chewing tobacco are among the worst culprits. Also, teeth naturally darken as we age due to thinning enamel, changes in structure of our teeth, cracks (which pick up stains) and changes in the thickness (density) of our teeth. Most people are also aware that certain things we eat and drink profoundly affect the color of our teeth.
A simple way to determine a food’s ability to stain teeth is to think of a white T-shirt. In general, the things that stain a white T-shirt the most (think of a Tide commercial)- like grape juice, pasta sauce, blueberry pie, coffee- will also stain your teeth the most. Typically, bright and dark colors have the most tooth-staining potential; black tea, berries, red grapes, dark sodas. In addition, acids can increase the staining potential of a food – think red wine or coffee. I have noticed green and black tea to be some of the most obvious and easily noticed stains on my patient’s teeth. However, I would never suggest to avoid these foods altogether because on the contrary, many of these foods are very healthy.
To help prevent teeth from staining, drink plenty of water, brush at least twice daily, floss, and chew sugar-free gum for 10-15 minutes after consumption of staining foods and beverages. Obviously, coming in to have your teeth cleaned and polished regularly will help remove some stains that may build up on even the most meticulous brusher. And of course tooth whitening is an option for many people (like myself) that simply love coffee way too much! At your next appointment, ask us to check the shade of your teeth to see where they fall on a whiteness scale that runs from B1 (very white) to C6 (post-it-note yellow).
Enjoy your coffee!