Expert Reveals: These Foods and Drinks Will Ruin Your Smile

Published 6:30 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

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  • Certain dark-colored foods and drinks such as fruits, sauces, juices, coffee, and tea can all contribute to staining teeth.

  • Acidic foods and drinks should also be avoided to prevent discoloration and enamel erosion.

  • To minimize teeth staining, it’s important to brush and floss, drink water, use a straw, limit the intake of stain-causing foods, and visit the dentist regularly for dental cleaning.

Looking to keep your pearly whites, well, white? You might want to reconsider some of your favorite foods and habits that are notorious for staining teeth. According to Benjamin Bowers, nutritionist and the founder of, these are the biggest threats to your white smile.

1. Balsamic Vinegar and Dark Sauces

Dark-pigmented sauces like soy sauce, tomato sauce, curry sauce, and balsamic vinegar are known culprits of yellow teeth. The high acid content in foods like vinegar can cause the tooth enamel to break down, allowing a stain to set in. If it can leave a mark on your food containers, it can definitely leave a mark on your teeth.

To prevent any staining, consider swishing some water around in your mouth after indulging in any saucy treats.

2. Dark Juices and Soda

Sipping on a sugary soda can turn your pearly whites into a shade of yellow. The acidity of these drinks can also corrode your enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to discoloration by other foods too. Dark fruit juices are also a risk, because of their high acidity and high sugar levels.

For these reasons, keep your dark fruit juice and soda intake to a minimum.

3. Pigmented Fruits

Do you look forward to your morning smoothie full of blackberries and blueberries? Or do you maybe start your morning with a handful of juicy pomegranate seeds instead? You may want to rethink this if you want to have a lovely white smile. These fruits have dark red and purple pigments that can easily stain your teeth. These tiny particles penetrate the pores in your tooth enamel and can leave a purplish tint on your teeth.

4. Coffee and Tea

Another morning staple is a cup of coffee or tea which may be the culprit behind your not-so-white smile. Tannins, a group of natural compounds found in both drinks, can leave behind unflattering brown or gray stains with frequent consumption.

It’s a good idea to add a little bit of milk to your tea to significantly reduce its ability to stain teeth, all thanks to a protein called casein found in dairy products.

5. Red Wine

Red wine is not only famous for its sophisticated taste and for pairing well with cheese but also for its ability to leave stubborn stains on your teeth. The tannins and chromogens found in red wine are guilty of discoloring your smile.

As you already know, acidic foods and drinks aren’t optimal if you want white teeth as they can erode tooth enamel. Sadly, red wine is pretty high on the acidity scale. If you’re a fan of red wine and can’t let it go, make sure to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after indulging in a glass or two.

6. Energy and Sports Drinks

If you’re drinking energy and sports drinks regularly, you might want to think twice about the impact they have on your smile. Both types of drinks can contribute to enamel breakdown, which leads to pesky stains that nobody wants.

Next time you’re feeling the need for a pick-me-up, maybe stick to a glass of water instead and save your teeth from a colorful makeover.

7. Sweets and Candy

Sugar-loaded treats and candies will definitely leave a mark on your teeth. Plus, these irresistible sweet snacks often have pigmented dyes that can cling to your enamel, leading to staining. If the sweets can color your tongue, they are surely going to darken the color of your white teeth.

8. Smoking and Hookah

Not only is smoking dangerous for your overall health, but nicotine can do irreversible harm to your teeth. Both cigarettes and hookah have nicotine and tar, which can leave your teeth stained and discolored. And that’s not even the worst of it — they can also cause bone and tooth loss, receding gums, and other gnarly dental problems.

How to Minimize Stained Teeth

1. Brush and floss often

No matter what your diet looks like, it’s imperative to brush your teeth two times a day and floss at least once.

2. Drink water

Not only is being hydrated beneficial for your entire body, but it can also help wash away any residual pigments from the foods.

3. Use a straw

If you can’t handle yourself around coffee, tea, wine, or other staining drinks, indulge in them using a straw. But, think of the turtles and make sure you use reusable straws!

4. Avoid staining foods

Make it your life’s mission to limit your intake of foods that can stain your teeth. Of course, have them once in a while but brush your teeth after or swoosh some water around your mouth.

5. Visit your dentist regularly

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can remove surface stains and prevent further discoloration. When you’re in your dentist’s office, you can make an appointment to have your teeth professionally whitened too.