Yellow or discolored teeth is a common complaint of many. We all want that dazzling white smile, but unfortunately many of the healthy (and not so healthy) foods and drinks we love to consume can get in the way of our pearly white goals.

However, there’s good news! There are several ways we can prevent our favorite foods from staining our teeth—from eating foods that naturally whiten, to practicing good hygiene habits. Keep reading to find out what to do and what to avoid.

Staining Foods & Drinks

Cup of teaThe general rule of thumb is: if it can stain your skin or clothes, it will probably stain your teeth as well.

Some common offenders include:

  • Dark beverages like tea, coffee, soda, red wine, grape juice and cranberry juice
  • Blueberries
  • Beets
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomato sauce

The longer you leave these things in your mouth, the longer their staining pigments have to leave their marks on your teeth. You can curb this effect by rinsing out your mouth thoroughly before they have the chance to set.

Stain-Fighting Foods

BroccoliLuckily, not all foods have staining pigments you need to look out for. Some actually do the opposite and help fight discoloration. Many of these foods assist your mouth in producing saliva to wash away staining particles while also cleaning your teeth with their natural fibers.

Some include:

  • Water
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Cheese
  • Apples
  • Pineapple
  • Carrots
  • Raisins
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Shitake Mushrooms

Citrus fruits are also often recommended for their whitening properties. You will, however, want to be careful not to brush your teeth too soon after eating them since their acids can temporarily soften your enamel. Waiting 30 minutes should be enough to prevent any damage.

Five More Ways to Stop Staining

In addition to consuming less stain-causing foods and more whitening ones, there are even more tips and tricks for preventing discoloration without giving up your morning coffee or tea completely.

Try these techniques for a whiter, brighter smile:

  1. Drink Water In Between: If you can’t imagine life without your staining beverage of choice, try drinking sips of water after each sip of your coffee, tea or wine. You will extend the life of your beverage, stay hydrated and give your teeth a rinse in between.
  2. Use a Straw: Another thing you can do—when appropriate—is drink your beverage through a straw. It will cut down on the time your teeth are exposed to the juice or soda, preventing stains.
  3. Brush & Floss Afterwards: Since plaque and bacteria build up naturally as you eat, it’s important to brush and floss thoroughly at least twice a day to prevent the staining pigments from getting caught in all the gunk.
  4. Don’t Smoke: Need another reason to stop smoking? The tar and chemicals found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco are a huge contributor to tooth discoloration and a number of other oral health problems.
  5. Visit Your Dentist Every 6 Months: By making it a point to get regular checkups, your hygienist will be able to remove any stubborn tartar buildup that is trapping stains before they set in permanently.

We hope these tips will allow you to continue enjoying your favorites foods with new knowledge and whiter teeth. If your stains still won’t go away, visit our whitening page to learn how we can help get your sparkling smile back!