It’s the festive season packed with weddings , engagements , graduation ceremonies, religious gatherings and so on . Dental offices are booked for dental cleanings and whitening for these special occasions. I have been asked time and again these two valuable questions :
How to avoid staining the teeth? What can we do at home to keep the teeth white besides toothbrushing and flossing?
We should bear in mind that the tooth is made of minerals and is porous, therefore it will tend to get stained over time if left in staining agents.
Staining agents!? Yes! Tea and coffee are examples of staining foods. We so love our hot beverage in this cold weather, but too much of it does tarnish your whites. They are known as tannins. Other tannins are red wine, pomegranate, citrus fruits, smoked foods and vegetables.
More staining foods are the curry/Masala , coloured food stand beverages. These also leave a brown or yellow tinge.
Why do bright colours foods and beverages stain the teeth? Artificial food colourings come from intensely pigmented molecules that easily adhere to the dental enamel.
However it’s not just the food colour that you need to look out for, the level of acidity of the food or drink can also make a substantial difference in tooth colour. They promote stains by wearing out the enamel and temporarily softening the teeth and making it susceptible to stains.
Think of it this way,if a food or beverage can leave permanent stains on your clothing or carpet, so can they stain your teeth.
Very hot or cold beverage are also dangerous to your smile as the change of temperatures cause enamel to expand or contract.
Adding a splash of milk to a black cup of coffee can lessen the staining .Coffee’s dark color and acidic nature easily affects the tooth enamel.
Tea has equal staining power as coffee because of its tannins also because it is usually drank piping hot. To avoid any damage avoid dark colored teas,and go for green,white or other herbal teas.
Decaf is another option. A recent preliminary study has shown that those who drink decaf instead of caffeinated drinks such as tea or coffee enjoy strong and whiter teeth.
Studies have shown that red wine helps reduce inflammation and therefore good to some extent for gum disease but because of its deep red color its tannins will cling to the tooth.
Solution: rinse the mouth shortly after consuming or if white wine is available in those gatherings go for white.
The kids’ favorite! The soda! Colored soda including the diet ones discolor teeth. The citric acids erode the tooth enamel and regular soda is packed with sugar, promoting tooth decay.
Colored candy and Popsicles
These contain colorants ,transfer to the teeth and embed in porous enamel. Sugarless gum with no artificial flavours is a health and tooth conscious alternative. But if you just can’t resist indulging in candy, choose lemon flavors over berries.
Ketchup and tomato sauce Its bright red color + additives + high acidity in tomato are a great combination for stain to occur. Maybe eating foods like lettuce, broccoli, beforehand can form a protective barrier on the tooth.
Berries- Rich in antioxidants, good for skin but not so much for the tooth color because of their dark skins. Advice is to rinse the mouth after eating, whilst juices can be drunk through a straw.
Yum! Who doesn’t like a good fish vindaloo or chicken curry with a nice pair of dholl puris or farata / plain rice? I can eat a whole bowl of curry! Chana masala ! Yummy!
Avoiding these dishes is next to impossible, hence the best option is to brush teeth within an hour of eating or swishing with mouthwash and drinking water or eating fibre rich fruits after the meal.
I’m really feeling hungry now, maybe one day I should start a culinary blog 😛 .
I nearly forgot one of the common staining agents which is nicotine.
Nicotine is obtained in cigarettes and together with other agents like tar , they definitely cause the tooth to become yellow/ brown.
Solution: Stop smoking!
Besides the above home remedies, dental cleanings / scaling can be done by your dentist also there are tooth whitening options. I will talk about them in another post soon. Thank you for your attention . I hope it was enriching!
I wish you all a happy August!