9 Things to Avoid if You Want a Whiter Smile

woman drinking coffee looking out a window

Your smile is one of the first things people notice about you. Teeth that are stained or discolored, however, can seriously hurt your self-confidence. Your local dentist may offer cosmetic dentistry services that help, but there are steps you can take to prevent staining altogether and maintain a brighter, whiter smile.

Nearly everyone enjoys food and beverages that can alter the appearance of your teeth. Here are 9 of them, including what you can do to combat the effects of staining.

1. Tobacco. Tobacco will stain your teeth, whether it’s smoked or chewed, or in a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. Frequent tobacco use can also result in bad breath, gum disease, tooth loss, and even oral cancer. If your teeth are constantly exposed to tobacco, it can be more difficult to get a whiter smile, even with professional treatment.

2. Citrus fruits and acidic foods. If you notice your teeth becoming slightly yellowish, acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes might be a contributing factor. While these foods are healthy for you, acidic foods do tend to be (surprise!) acidic. That means they can erode or break down the enamel on your teeth to expose the yellowish, calcium-rich tissue, called dentin, beneath.

3. Coffee. We know, we know— you need your morning caffeine. Unfortunately, coffee includes a biomolecule called tannin which can lead to tooth staining, yellowing, and discoloration. It’s also acidic and can alter the pH balance of your mouth, meaning any acidic foods you eat after drinking coffee could damage your teeth much more quickly. Check here for ways to avoid coffee staining on your teeth.

4. Tea. Like coffee, tea also includes tannin. Even the color of the tea—black, green, etc.—can lead to discoloration. Black tea creates yellowish stains while green tea creates grayish ones. Luckily, adding a dash of milk to your tea can help dilute the tannins and cut down on the discoloration.

5. Blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries. These fruits are loaded with healthy antioxidants, but they’re also loaded with something else: rich, deep color. If you’ve ever gotten blueberry or blackberry stains on a white T-shirt, you’ll know how difficult it is to get that stain out! The same thing applies to your teeth.

6. Wine. Red wine contains the same tannins as coffee and tea, which can stain or discolor your teeth. White wine doesn’t have the same stain factor, but like coffee, the acid content of white wine can alter the pH balance of your mouth and make it easier for other foods to stain your teeth.

7. Balsamic vinegar. The natural dark color of balsamic vinegar tends to stick to your teeth if you don’t brush it away quickly. If you use balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing, make sure to include some crunchy lettuce in your salad! Chewing the lettuce will help wash the vinegar off your teeth as you eat.

8. Curry powder. This flavorful spice mix is great when you’re adding that extra kick to your meal, but the deep color can stain your teeth over time. When you’re eating a dish heavy on the curry powder, make sure to eat some fresh fruits or veggies along with it to help prevent staining.

9. Candy and other high-sugar snacks. The sugars in very sweet foods such as candies and cookies will stick to your teeth and encourage bacteria to grow. When bacteria feeds off sugars, they release acids that lead to staining and—yes, you guessed it—tooth decay. In addition to discoloration, sugary food can also create further, more harmful dental issues.

Can I still have these things and a whiter smile?

Of course! You don’t need to cut any of the items on this list out of your life entirely, but a bit of moderation will go a long way. There is nothing wrong with a morning cup of coffee, an evening glass of wine, or the occasional sweet. Just don’t overdo it and make sure to practice regular, thorough dental hygiene.

If you keep to a healthy diet and brush and floss your teeth twice daily, there’s no need to part with these foods forever. Just need to be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth. Balance out acidic foods with non-acidic fruits and vegetables, cut your tea with some milk, and drink coffee through a straw whenever possible to avoid contact with your teeth. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too – so long as you care for your smile afterward.

Be aware that some factors that cause tooth staining are simply out of your control, such as aging and genetics. No matter how well you brush, your teeth will discolor as you age. It’s annoying but natural, but your dentist can help you to combat it.

What’s the best treatment?

If your teeth are already discolored, cutting certain foods and drinks out of your diet tomorrow are unlikely do much for the current state of your teeth. And while avoiding certain foods or habits can help prevent tooth staining, sometimes our patients need a tooth whitening method that is guaranteed to result in a whiter smile. We always recommend brushing and flossing twice daily, but if you feel like you need a “reset” for a whiter smile, we also recommend booking an appointment for a professional whitening procedure.

If you’ve been looking for a powerful solution to brightening and lightening your teeth, the KöR Deep Bleaching method (which we offer at My Family Dentistry) could be what you need. Unlike other procedures, Deep Bleaching can whiten even severely stained and dingy teeth. The process works by allowing oxygen to penetrate deep into the enamel of your teeth, dissolving the molecules that cause staining. If you’ve ever been disappointed in other available methods, including over-the-counter whitening kits, Deep Bleaching is known to provide stunning results.

Our team can answer your questions about the teeth whitening options we have available. Contact us to schedule your appointment.



Discover the dentistry
that you deserve!

Request An Appointment