Like landing that big promotion at work or scoring a first date with your long-time crush, a radiant, glowing grin is the stuff dreams are made of. And it’s no wonder, considering how much the appearance of our pearly whites affect our image.

Case in point: Recent research has shown that people with whiter teeth are seen as smarter, more socially knowledgeable, and are more satisfied with their relationships.

Needless to say, many of us are curious about which foods and drinks can nourish a healthy smile, and which ones can tarnish our teeth. Here is a list of foods and drinks that can lead to teeth staining, as well as tips on how to effectively remove those dreaded discolorations. (See also: 4 Tips to Keep Your Teeth Healthy For a Life Time)

What Causes Stains?

Like your body, your tooth enamel changes as you get older and develops tiny crevices and cracks. These three traits in food can get caught in these tiny cracks and lead to staining:

  • Chromogens – These are compounds in food with strong pigmentation that cling to your tooth enamel.
  • Tannins – This plant-based compound makes it easy for stains to stick to your teeth.
  • Acids – This makes your tooth enamel rougher and softer, making it easier for stains to set in.

Citrus and Acidic Foods

If you see a yellowish tint on your teeth, acidic foods, like lemons, might be the culprit. Even these brightly hued foods are packed with nutrients, these colorful eats can lead to the erosion of your teeth enamel, which can expose the yellow colored tissue beneath it.



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Sorry, java junkies – your favorite morning pick-me-up can lead to discoloration and stains. Since coffee is also acidic, it also changes the pH balance of your mouth, making any other acidic foods that you consume damage your teeth much more quickly.

Pasta Sauce

Due to its acidity, bright red colors have a tendency to cling to your teeth, such as the tomatoes in your favorite pasta sauce dishes. Opt to dine on darker veggies, such as kale or spinach, beforehand to make a protective film over the teeth that can ward off pasta staining effects. So select a green salad as an appetizer before your dinner.


Though this spice can be delicious with exotic dishes, curry can cause the discoloration of your teeth. Because of its high staining tendency, you may want to limit curry from your diet.

Balsamic Vinegar

This healthy salad dressing option can darken your teeth. The reason lies in its natural dark coloration. It can also swiftly stick to your teeth, which can lead to discoloration if not quickly brushed off. But you don’t have to entirely avoid this delicious dressing. Opt for a crunchy lettuce that will help clean the dressing from your teeth as you eat.

Red Wine

Red Wine

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Red wine contains those troublesome tannins that we mentioned earlier. Pair your glass of pinot with a handful of almonds to help counteract any staining that could happen. Chewing hard food, such as nuts, can help scrub away plaque as you chew and mitigate staining. Chewing the nuts can stimulate saliva which will neutralize the harmful acid attacks.

White Wine

Cue the sad violin. As it turns out, sipping sauvignon blanc can also wipe away your whiteness. The lighter color of the vino can actually make tooth stains darker.

Hard Candies

Hard sweets may be one of the worst foods for your teeth. Their stickiness will get stuck to your teeth and cultivate bacteria, which releases acid that leads to tooth decay. However, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth. Snack on dark chocolates that are not sticky, but preferably with low sugar levels.


Whether it is the full sugar variety or a diet version, this bubbly beverage is acidic and is also damaging to your dental health. Drinking soda through a straw can help a bit, but the liquid will eventually get around your entire mouth. Skip the soda and choose a seltzer to get your fizzy fix.


Whether you like them as a juice or consume whole, beats can really stain your teeth. The most critical step you can take against them is to brush right after you eat them. You can also pair them with foods that are less harmful to your smile, such as cheese, which may reduce the acidic volumes in your mouth.

Dyed Foods

Unnaturally colored foods and drinks can leave their mark not only your tongue but your teeth as well.


While they can be low-calorie dessert choices, their high sugar content and fruit juice base can steal the whiteness from your smile.


This deeply pigmented fruit, the main ingredient found in wine, will darken your smile. If you have a good toothpaste, you’ll be able to effectively fight those stains.

Smoking or Hookah

We all know that smoking is bad for your overall health, but it’s also bad for your teeth. The nicotine and tar found in cigarettes will lead to brown and yellow stains on your teeth. This unhealthy habit can also lead to bone loss, receding gums, and loose teeth. (See also: 6 Everyday Foods that are Harmful to Your Teeth)

Top Tips for Keeping Your Teeth White

Keeping Your Teeth White

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There are plenty of things that you can do to combat tooth stains and get a whiter smile.

  • Brush or rinse immediately after consuming staining foods or drinks.
  • Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once. Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash daily to kill bacteria that causes plaque.
  • Consider an at-home tooth whitening kit or whitening services offered by your dentist.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking water can neutralize the pH of your oral cavity and help clear food and drink out of your mouth.
  • Eat veggies. Consuming leafy foods will help remove from staining and not allow plaque to build up.

While these foods and beverages can stain your teeth, you can always take preventative measurements. Reduce your consumption of these staining foods and drinks, brush daily, and also consider whitening services offered by a dental professional.

About The Author:

Kim is a writer by profession. She mostly writes about self-care and how to maintain a good and healthy life. Apart from being a fantastic writer she also loves painting and has executed a few exhibitions to display her creativity.

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