Want White Teeth? Avoid These Foods
Want White Teeth? Avoid These Foods
It should come as no surprise that everything you put in your mouth has an effect on the health of your teeth — as well as on their appearance. In pursuit of perfectly pearly whites, we asked Dr. Gerald Smith, a Thunder Bay, Ontario-based dentist and president of the Ontario Dental Association, for advice on what foods and drinks to avoid for a bright, stain-free smile and other tips on keep our teeth their whitest.
Avoiding foods and beverages that can cause staining is “probably the most important thing if you’re talking strictly about the colour and aesthetics of teeth,” says Dr Smith. In listing common foods and beverages to wary, he says the top offenders are coffee, tea and red wine. “[These] are major culprits that will cause surface the staining on teeth.”
To keep your teeth their whitest, another warning that Dr. Smith gives is be mindful of food and drinks that can damage enamel. A breakdown of this protective surface layer leaves the weaker under layers of your teeth exposed, making them more susceptible to staining. “Unhealthy beverages like pop and sports drinks are high in sugar and very acidic in nature, so not only is the sugar harmful to your teeth but also the acidity of the beverages can cause harm to the enamel on your teeth.” Beyond the obviously unhealthy choices of pop and sports drinks, Dr. Smith also names citrus juices, like lemonade, orange juice or grapefruit juice, as possible threats.
When it comes to solid foods, the same rules apply as for the beverages discussed previously. Anything high in sugar (Dr. Smith notes “sugary, sticky candies and candy bars”), high in acidity (“Again, citrus fruits”), or high in stain-causing pigments (such as blueberries) could cause your teeth to become less than white.
Moderation is key
Thankfully, you don’t need to give up your morning glass of orange juice or bowl or heart-healthy blueberries completely in the pursuit of white teeth: “If you’re taking about one glass of orange juice a day,” Dr Smith will gives it a pass. “Anything in moderation is fine,” he conceeds. But, if you’re having five of six glasses a day, you could be putting your enamel at risk— and Dr. Smith says he does see this in his practice. His example: “Young athletes who are consuming six cans of some energy or sports drink on a daily basis—That’s very harmful.”
Learn to love water…
To counteract the risk posed by sugary, acidic, or stain-causing food and drink, Dr. Smith recommends good old-fashioned H2O. “It’s very important that you rinse with water [after consuming anything with the potential to harm your teeth], and drink a lot of water…It helps to neutralize the damaging acids in your mouth, and it can wash away some of the sugars and bacteria.”
…But drink it plain
A trend Dr. Smith isn’t keen on is the rise in drinking lemon-infused water. Putting a few slices of lemon in your water bottle may seem like a healthy, harmless flavor booster, but as the dentist cautions that by drinking this all day, “you’re basically giving your teeth an acid bath from morning until bedtime. The long term effects can be very devastating to the enamel on your teeth.”
Beware a dry mouth
“Saliva is very important in the remineralization process of teeth enamel, as well as washing away damaging acids, sugars, and bacteria,” explains Dr. Smith. One way to ensure a health flow of saliva: Chewing gum. “Sugar-free is of course the key—you don’t want to be chewing come with sugar. There’s also some research to suggest that chewing gum sweetened with Xylitol is a also a very good [saliva] stimulator, and might help prevent cavities as well.”
Take preventative action
“The sooner you brush your teeth after you eat, the better,” advises Dr. Smith. He advocates “very careful daily oral hygiene” as the key method of protecting your teeth from stains and damage. “It’s so important to regularly do very good, prudent oral hygiene to ensure your teeth are as cleans as they possibly can be.” He recommends taking care to brush your teeth after breakfast, after lunch, and before you go to bed, and flossing your teeth once a day before you go to bed.
Get professional guidance
“The most important thing,” says Dr. Smith, “is to see your dentist on a regular basis, who can see some of the early signs of changes to enamel to the teeth, or enamel erosion. They can see the areas that you (may not be) brushing properly, and they can guide you along so you are going to have nice bright teeth for as long as possible.”
Colour isn’t everything
Dr. Smith emphasizes remembering that tooth colour is primarily a cosmetic concern. “The colour of teeth varies from person to person, so there is no ideal or perfect colour our there.” He explains that many shades are common and exist naturally, saying, “there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ colour,” and also assures that it’s normal for one’s tooth colour to change slightly as they age. Dr. Smith attests that having off-white teeth isn’t a sign of poor oral health, and shouldn’t be a cause for concern beyond personal aesthetic preference. “There’s a very wide range of tooth colours, and all are healthy tooth colours.”