Over the last several years, having beautiful pearly white teeth has become a huge focus. More people than ever before spend time in their dentists’ offices undergoing whitening treatments, and millions upon millions of people buy at-home whitening strips, gels, and tubes of toothpaste. Like with anything else, prevention is the real secret to having whiter teeth. Below are five foods and drinks that you might not have realized can cause stains or just straight up destroy your teeth.
#1 – Tomato Sauce
Tomatoes are highly pigmented with substances known as carotenoids, and it’s these same carotenoids that offer some pretty incredible health benefits. In tomatoes, you’ll find lycopene and beta-carotene. Lycopene is an antioxidant, and beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A, which is necessary for a healthy immune system, healthy skin, and healthy mucus membranes. Unfortunately, tomatoes are one of the worst offenders when it comes to stained teeth. Their acidic nature can weaken tooth enamel, allowing even more of the bright orange-red pigment to penetrate the surface.
#2 – Soda
Though soda (or “pop” or just “Coke” depending on where you live) may not seem that likely to stain your teeth, the truth is that it is known for its ability to harm them and even cause decay. Soda often contains ingredients like citric acid, which eat away at your tooth enamel and leave it susceptible to staining. All sodas have this effect, but the darker ones – including colas – can make discoloration even worse.
#3 – Balsamic Vinegar
If you love a drizzle of balsamic vinegar over your caprese salad, you are certainly not alone, but be aware that the dark, rich color of the popular dressing may transfer to your teeth as you eat it. Balsamic vinegar is dark and sticky, and it will absolutely leave stains behind. The same thing can be said for similar sauces, including but not limited to soy sauce and molasses.
#4 – Pigmented Fruits
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of your daily nutrition, but certain ones – including things like black cherries, pomegranates, blackberries, blueberries, and even raspberries – can easily cause enamel stains. These fruits have natural purple and red pigments that leave a residue on your teeth, and when you consume them frequently enough without taking the proper measures, they can leave some pretty serious dark stains behind.
#5 – Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea are popular beverages around the world. In fact, just about every culture drinks some sort of tea or coffee almost daily. However, while coffee can be healthy in moderation, and while various types of tea offer amazing health benefits, they can all harm your enamel with time and stain your teeth a great deal – even if they are very light in color like jasmine tea.
If any of these foods or drinks are staples in your diet, there is no need to completely cut them out. Whenever you eat an acidic and highly pigmented food like tomatoes, blackberries, or balsamic vinegar – or whenever you have a cup of tea or coffee – be sure that you take the time to brush your teeth thoroughly afterward to reduce the length of time the acids and pigments come into contact with your tooth enamel.