Top 6 Foods That Can Stain Teeth (and What to Do About It)

by Premier Orthodontics

Halloween is just around the corner, which means you might be indulging in a little extra candy this month. Then right after Halloween is the winter holiday season, where there’s no shortage of sweets (and often plenty of wine for adults).

While these treats may taste delicious, certain foods and beverages can contribute to tooth staining, making your smile not quite as bright this holiday season.  

It’s not just holiday treats either: everyday staples like coffee, soda, and certain sauces can lead to tooth staining, too.  

If youre wearing braces or aligners, foods and drinks that stain your teeth could affect the appearance of your aligners or the areas of your teeth that arent covered in a bracket. And you wont want those stains to linger when you get your braces off! 

Discover the foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, and tips to preventing and treating teeth stains so you can enjoy a bright smile this holiday season. 

Top 6 Foods That Stain Teeth 

Below is a list of top foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, and what you can do after you eat or drink them to try and reduce staining.

1. Candy, Chocolate, and Sweets 

Any sweets or candy that are dark in color — think dark chocolate — can cause teeth stains. Candy made with artificial coloring, like gummies or lollipops, can also contribute to stains, too. Not to mention that hard, gummy, and sticky candy can be detrimental to braces and other orthodontic treatments. 

If it leaves your tongue a bright color after eating it, thats probably a clear sign it could lead to discoloration of your teeth. Not to mention the sugar content in candy is damaging to the health of your teeth in general and can lead to costly cavities down the line.

2. Coffee and Tea 

A big question we often get at Premier Orthodontics is, “Does coffee stain your teeth?” 

Unfortunately, if you like to wake up each morning with a fresh cup of coffee or tea, the answer is yes.

The dark color of coffee, along with tannins — a chemical compound that can lead to discoloration — is the culprit for staining. Tannins are found not only in coffee, but other beverages like tea, wine, and chocolate.

Tea also contains tannins. The darker the color of the tea, the more likely it is to stain your teeth. Black tea is the strongest, while lighter colored teas like green tea have fewer tannins.

The longer you steep your tea (creating a darker color) the more tannins, and the more tooth staining.

3. Fruits and Vegetables 

You might be seeing a trend here — the darker the food or drink, the more likely it is to stain your teeth. That goes for fruits and veggies too.   

Fruits and vegetables that are bright in color — like strawberries, blueberries, or beets, can stain your teeth.  

But in general, the health benefits from these foods strong in antioxidants outweigh the negatives. After eating these fruits or veggies, simply drink water, rinse with mouthwash, or brush your teeth to help prevent staining.

4. Tomato Sauce, Soy Sauce & Balsamic Vinegar 

While its dark red color is a clear sign it could cause tooth staining, tomato sauce has an additional negative impact on your teeth due to its acidity.  

Found in many foods and drinks, acidity causes the color to stick to the enamel on your teeth. 

Other sauces which are dark in color like soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or curry, can have the same effect.

5. Red and White Wine 

Youre probably assuming that only red wine should be avoided since its dark in color. While this is true, the color of the wine isn’t the only issue with tooth staining.  

Its also acidic, which can damage your tooth enamel and cause staining. All wine is acidic, but white wine is actually more acidic than red, which can break down your tooth enamel and make it more susceptible to staining from other foods.

6. Soda and Sugary Drinks

Apart from other negative health factors — like their high sugar content and link to rising obesity rates  soda is damaging to your teeth in more than one way. When mixed with bacteria already present in your mouth, the sugar found in soda creates acid. 

Soda and other sugary drinks — like sport or energy drinks — can lead to teeth stains. But sugar-free sodas are still acidic and arent a great substitute for a few reasons. 

These sugar-filled drinks not only cause damage to tooth enamel, leading to stains but can cause cavities and tooth decay, too. Its better to choose a healthy substitute, like sugar-free light-colored fruit juice, or fruit-infused water.

Tips to Prevent Teeth Stains  

Its not realistic to completely avoid all the foods and drinks above to keep your smile bright. Luckily, there are some alternative options for what you can do before or after you consume these foods and drinks to prevent or lessen the staining. 

Use A Straw When Drinking Beverages Mentioned Above 

  • By using a straw, you can prevent drinks from lingering on your teeth and causing damage to your enamel and discoloration.

Go for Lighter Colored Fruits and Vegetables, or Mix With Dairy Products

  • While you don’t have to completely avoid all healthy and dark fruits and vegetables, you might try lighter colors, like apples, melons, or cauliflower.  
  • Another tip for fruits like berries is to combine them with dairy products like yogurt or milk to lessen their staining effect. Make a healthy and delicious smoothie and you’re good to go!

Avoid Adding Extra Sugar to Coffee or Tea

  • While it’s the tannins in coffee and tea that can lead to stained teeth, many people forget that adding sweeteners, sugary creamers, or syrups is an additional issue due to the sugar content.  
  • Try to avoid these additives when possible and stick to milk or unsweetened milk alternatives.

Brush Your Teeth

  • Brushing your teeth after eating staining foods is essential.  
  • But if you’re consuming something acidic, like coffee or fruit, be sure to wait a minimum of 30 minutes. The acid weakens the enamel in your teeth, so waiting to brush can prevent damaging the enamel.

Drink Water

  • You probably know drinking plenty of water throughout the day is a healthy lifestyle choice, but it’s also crucial to preventing stained teeth. 
  • Right after consuming staining foods or drinks, it’s helpful to drink water to rinse off the color and acid and prevent teeth stains. 

The Best Foods for Teeth

Beyond all these foods you should avoid or eat less of, there are also foods that are beneficial to the overall health of your teeth.

The tricks above can help prevent tooth stains, but theyre also great ways to keep your teeth healthy in general. The nutrients in healthy foods can help strengthen your teeth and gums, fight against bacteria, and prevent cavities and tooth decay.

Ensure your mouth and teeth are getting all the attention they deserve.

Learn more about the best foods for your teeth >