One of the most annoying situations is continuously brushing and flossing your teeth, but never being able to quite have that bright white smile. Unfortunately, maintaining a white smile is not as simple as practicing good oral health, but also requires diligence about what foods you do and do not eat. A few simple chemical processes are responsible for the stains on teeth from food.
Firstly, sugars are awful, since the excess sugar in your mouth spurs the creation of excess enzymes, which are cells in your body that breakdown sugars. Think of when you eat a Saltine slowly and it begins to taste to taste sweet, after originally tasting salty (that’s due to the enzymes breaking down the sugars). The problem here is that these excess enzymes then begin to damage your enamel and teeth as well.
Secondly, acids and a particular acid in many drinks, called tannins, can directly damage your enamel since your mouth is not used to such acidity. So, if you spend extra time polishing up your pearly whites, a single overly acidic meal or beverage can eat away all of that work.
Finally, strong pigments can bind to the teeth causing natural stains, which is perhaps the most obvious source of staining. Consuming particularly vibrant blueberries, vivid red wine, or other bright food and beverage can have clear immediate color changes due to this effect, but in most of these circumstances either acids or sugars also have a play in causing longer-term stains.
While these can be detrimental to a white smile, avoiding too many of certain food groups and also increasing consumption of others can help you balance your diet around always staying bright!
While the particular variety of juice will change the impact on your smile, most juices are loaded with both sugars and acidity. Many also feature brightly color fruits and berries. All of this combines for immediate acid damage, prolonged enzyme damage, and potentially pigment stains as well.
Juice is a key part of many nutritional diets, but having it be the last thing in your mouth after any sitting is not wise if you want to maintain brilliant white teeth. After having a glass of juice, either follow it up with a glass of water or milk or some other food so the acid and sugars get washed out of your mouth. Also, cutting back on the amount of juice you drink will help you in the battle to have a Hollywood level smile.
Not only is soda highly acidic and loaded with artificial dyes, but carbonation in and of itself stimulates the carbonic acid in the mouth, causing erosion of the enamel. This means that even sparkling water is bad for your teeth despite being clear and not having added acids.
Just as with juices, making sure you do not consume too much soda or carbonated drinks and never finish a meal with a swig of Coke can help prevent accumulated damage and get your smile up a few bars without needing to do extra whitening.
- Bread and Pasta
Breads, pastas, and starch-filled foods may seem innocuous; however, starches are one of the major sources of nutritional sugar for the body and so they stimulate enzyme-production in the mouth and in turn damage enamel. After having a slice of bread, a pasta-filled dinner, or any form of starch, simply finishing it off with a glass of milk is a great way to prevent any damage to your teeth.
Combining pasta with tomato sauce can make the situation even worse. Tomato sauce is loaded with acids and sugars, so if you have an Italian dinner with pasta, marinara, and garlic bread make sure to get to the bathroom and brush your teeth as soon as possible.
- Candy (Gummies)
It may come as no surprise that candy is bad for your oral health and the quality of your smile, but not all candy is made equal. Gummy candy and even gummy vitamins are worse for your teeth since they have more acidic components on average and the stickiness can cling to your teeth even if it is a quick snack. For chocolate lovers out there, cocoa can actually help promote healthy teeth, as long as the chocolate is low in sugar.
Typically, it is best to highly limit candy and stick to traditional candy rather than gummy alternatives. When you do opt to satisfy your sweet tooth, try to brush your teeth as soon as possible, especially if you have any dummies.
- White Wine
Red wine is typically associated with the red stain to teeth, but one of the major problems with wine stains has nothing to do with the pigment. Wine is a highly acidic beverage and features large amounts of “tannins,” which are acidic compounds that give wine part of its flavor. While red wine might feature a strong red pigment that leaves immediate stains, white wine still causes massive acidic erosion of enamel.
In order to limit this erosion, as with other beverages, it is best to limit consumption and try to rinse the mouth after having wine. Furthermore, due to the immediate degrading of the enamel due to wine, try to avoid other foods with strong pigments immediately after having wines since it will leave your teeth more susceptible to absorbing pigment and staining.
If you ever need to splurge on these food groups, a glass of milk can help promote enamel strength, wash out sugars in the mouth, and balance out acidity. Also, chewing a piece of sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva which will wash away bad chemicals in the mouth and prevent staining. Many factors go into choosing a diet, but these foods are strongly recommended to avoid if your goal is to promote a white smile.