It’s no secret: Americans are obsessed with white teeth. Take a trip to the grocery store and you’ll find whitening toothpaste, whitening trays, and whitening gum. Stained teeth can be an embarrassment, so it’s no wonder why. But have you ever stopped to think about what and how our teeth become stained in the first place? Diet is a big part of stained teeth, and if you smoke, it can be even worse.

If you’re hoping to keep your teeth clean and white, this blog is for you.

Diet is a big part of stained teeth, and if you smoke, it can be even worse.

The Culprits: Food and Drink

Everything we eat and drink has to pass over our teeth before it heads down towards the stomach, which can leave yellowed teeth in their wake.

While teeth may seem solid and impenetrable, enamel is actually quite porous, containing tiny ridges and pockets. Colorful foods with particularly strong pigments can work their way into those pores and change the appearance of your teeth. These foods and drinks are called chromogens, and they include coffee, tea, red wine, and richly colored berries like cherries or blackberries.

But stains aren’t the only risks you have to worry about from your food! Eating and drinking highly acidic things can also compromise your tooth whiteness. Acids can weaken your tooth enamel, opening up those pores to be more easily stained by other foods. These are sneakier, since even clear drinks like white wine or clear soda can open your teeth up to stains. Some items, like cola and red wine, are a double whammy, hitting your teeth with both acid and pigment at the same time.

Keeping Your Smile White

Of course, the obvious way of avoiding stains is to avoid the food and drink that create them, but let’s be honest — who wants to give up coffee or red wine? And while some of the foods and drinks listed here are common or especially strong sources of discoloration, they’re certainly not the only ones. Plenty of foods and drinks are acidic or contain chromogens. Luckily, avoidance isn’t the only way to keep your teeth white.

The key to keeping your morning cup of joe and your beautiful white smile is to perform consistent good dental hygiene, so that food and drink residue aren’t left to sit on your teeth, weakening and staining your enamel.

Your first instinct may be to reach for the toothbrush, but that’s an instinct you should fight — after acidic food and drink, your enamel isn’t just vulnerable to stains, it’s vulnerable to all kinds of damage. That means that brushing could be too harsh for your acid-weakened teeth. As a gentler alternative, try rinsing out your mouth with water directly after eating or drinking food that could discolor your teeth. And when you do brush, try using an extra soft brush and no toothpaste.

If you would like to learn whether teeth whitening in Anchorage can help restore the appearance of your smile, please call (907) 349-0022 or contact us today for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Excellence in Dentistry.