We all want white teeth and for good reason. According to research, people with very white teeth are more respected in society, as they are viewed as being more intelligent, employable, confident, well-adjusted, and satisfied in their relationships. Even though tooth color doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on these things, how we are perceived is important to us. As such, knowing which foods stain our teeth is helpful in that regard.

While it may not be reasonable to cut out all tooth-staining foods, in part because some of them are good for us, we can at least cut back to keep our pearly whites pearly white rather than yellowy white. These foods are some of the worst for causing stains and knowing them can help prevent tooth discoloration from happening to you.

Tea

Tea contains tannins, and tannins stain teeth. Green tea can leave your teeth gray, and black tea can leave them yellow. Also, when tea is lower in quality, it tends to leave a worse stain. Tea is good for you because it has a lot of antioxidants, so no one’s saying to eliminate tea from your diet entirely. However, it may be best for the sake of the whiteness of your teeth to invest in higher quality teas or to even add a bit of milk into your tea. Milk apparently causes the tea to lose some of its staining powers.

Soy sauce

Soy sauce, or really any deeply colored sauce, can easily stain your teeth. This includes things like balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce. That’s why it’s best to take it easy when consuming these foods. Try not to eat them more than a couple of days a week if you are concerned about how white your teeth are.

While there may not be a good alternative to soy sauce that isn’t another dark sauce, there are other, lighter-colored vinegars that you can use instead of balsamic. Plus, on pasta, it’s easy to opt for a white or creamy sauce instead of tomato sauce once in a while.

Citrus

Citrus and other acidic foods may seem harmless because they are generally light in color but surprisingly they can stain your teeth too. This is because they can cause the enamel on your teeth to erode. This then exposes the tissue that lies below the enamel, called dentin, which has a yellow color. Citrus and many other acidic fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients though, so don’t cut them out of your life just because they have a tendency to stain your teeth.

Coffee

Coffee is probably one of the most commonly recognized culprits of tooth-staining out there, and it’s no joke. Like tea, coffee contains tannins and can leave your teeth more yellow than you’d like. This is especially true if you’re consuming lots of coffee regularly. Coffee is also acidic, another tooth-discoloring substance, so coffee is doubly bad for maintaining white teeth. There is a partial solution at least, and it doesn’t include halting your coffee consumption forever. Simply drink your coffee in a cup with a to-go lid. It will help reduce the amount of acid your teeth are exposed to.

Wine

Another known culprit of tooth discoloration is wine. Most people think this is limited to red white, but white wine isn’t guilt-free either. Red wine has tannins, unfortunately, and drinking a lot of it can quickly begin to yellow your teeth.

White wine, on the other hand, does not have tannins and does not technically stain your teeth. However, it can cause stains already there to appear darker because of its acidity.

Deep-colored berries

Most berries, like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, are superfoods because of all their amazing antioxidants. The downside is they are also super at discoloring your teeth. Definitely keep eating them if you know what’s good for you, however, be vigilant in taking care of your teeth afterward in order to prevent staining.

Cola

Dark-colored carbonated beverages are not just bad for your health; they also stain your teeth. Aside from the dark color, cola also contains citric and phosphoric acids which cause tooth enamel to erode. Even worse, the sweeteners in non-diet soda can lead to tooth decay. If the soda is really cold, this can create even more of a tendency to stain because the temperature causes the teeth to contract, making them more porous than usual. When they are more porous, they stain more easily. If you didn’t have a reason to quit soda before, perhaps their excellent ability to stain your teeth on many counts will push you over the edge.

How you can avoid tooth staining

It’s not recommended to rid your diet of all foods that stain your teeth, because many of them are good for you. However, there are some tricks that can lessen the impact. You can use a straw, or as mentioned, use a to-go cup with a lid. This prevents your mouth’s environment from becoming overly acidic and thus causing tooth erosion.

One surprising method of preventing teeth stains is to eat broccoli, lettuce, or spinach before you eat tooth-staining foods. They will form a protective film over your teeth so it is hard for anything staining to seep into your teeth’s pores. You can also rinse and then brush your teeth directly after consuming foods known to stain teeth.

Even more important than those hacks in preventing your teeth from losing their attractive white color is to be diligent in your dental habits. This means that you should be brushing twice a day, flossing every day, and going to the dentist regularly.