Spring is right around the corner in Montgomery County, which means residents will be showing off big smiles as they enjoy the warmer weather. Most residents have spent the winter trying to keep warm by enjoying hot coffee at Main Street Java and red wine at Parc Bistro. Unfortunately, these drinks can stain your teeth.
Because of the porous nature of tooth enamel, teeth are very susceptible to staining. The three most important things to think about when choosing your food and drinks are acidity level, temperature, and the color/tannin amount. Acids wear away enamel over time. Hot or cold temperatures cause teeth to expand and contract, opening them to penetrating staining molecules called chromogens. Tannins in foods increase the amount of chromogens that stick and get absorbed by the enamel.
Some foods to avoid when trying to keep your pearly whites their whitest are:
- Coffee: Coffee, especially black coffee, is extremely acidic, carries a very dark color, and is typically enjoyed hot. Three strikes and you’re out! If you just have to have your cup of joe in the morning, put a dash of milk to lighten the color and dissipate the acid.
- Tea: Most people think tea would be a great alternative to coffee because it is not as dark and also less acidic, but that is not the case. Tea still stains! The temperature and color still penetrate enamel and can cause discoloration.
- Red Wine: As soon as you take your first sip, you’ll see the effects red wine leaves behind on your lips and your teeth. There are a lot of products out for “red wine teeth,” but nothing compares to just brushing your teeth after drinking it. Red wine isn’t the only culprit! White wine wears away enamel because of the high acidity level, so if you have a glass of red wine or coffee after a glass of white wine, your teeth will be weak and unable to fight off the chromogens, leading to a stained smile.
- Colored Soda and Fruit Juices: Again, the acid is the killer here. Plus the food coloring and sugar added to some juices can damage teeth in more ways than just staining. Sugar causes weakness and can lead to cavities.
If you are worried about staining your teeth but can’t live without the above foods and drinks, there are ways to head off pigmentation absorption:
- Use Straws. This helps tannins and acids avoid contact with your teeth.
- Drink club soda before consumption. The bubbles help produce saliva to fight chromogens attacking your enamel.
- Brush your teeth immediately after eating or drinking anything acidic or dark colored foods and drinks to minimize the effects they will have on your teeth.
After the damage is done, there are a few products and services available to re-whiten your teeth. Zoom! is a whitening service that is typically performed in a dentist’s office and has extraordinary results. It has a higher percentage of peroxide so it is very strong and lifts stains almost immediately. Another product you can buy over the counter is Crest White Strips. They have a lower percentage of peroxide so they are safe to use without a professional.
Whenever drinking or eating anything dark or acidic, think about the effects it may have not only on the health but also the look of your teeth. Hop out of dreary winter and into spring with a beautiful white smile and who knows… maybe you’ll dazzle someone special with your new pearly whites.
And the most important tip for dental care, visit the dentist every six months! Call Chalfont Dental Care to schedule your appointment at 215-822-6234.
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