Did you know Americans spend over a billion dollars annually on over-the-counter teeth whiteners? No one wants dark-stained teeth, and while you could turn to white strips or professional treatment to reverse the damage, preventing it altogether is a smarter (and cheaper) alternative. So how do you prevent stained teeth, besides shunning the top teeth stainers completely? “Eat something else afterward, and brush soon after. If you let those foods be the last thing that touches your teeth for a while, they’re more likely to stain,” advises Dr. Conner.
To prevent discoloration, Dr. Conner suggests eating a crunchy fruit or vegetables after a highly stainable food to buff away the dark berry juice or rich red pasta sauce – even just plain water will do! Try capping a meal with dark greens, apples, carrots, cauliflower, or celery to prevent stains, or try cold milk or hard cheese which neutralizes the acidity.
Top Teeth-Staining Foods:
Chipped teeth are not only unsightly, they can also be painful and easily damaged if not taken care of – and the majority of Americans are at risk. “If you have a lot of dental work previously done, like fillings or crowns, you’ll be at an increased risk for breakage,” says Dr. Conner. To avoid chipping your teeth, she recommends researching to know your past dental history – Do you have several fillings? Have you chipped teeth in the past? If so, be especially vigilant when eating hard foods.
Top Teeth-Chipping Foods:
Tooth erosion refers to the loss of tooth enamel – the hard, protective coating of the tooth which makes teeth less sensitive. When erosion occurs, the enamel is worn away and the dentine (the hard, dense bone tissue beneath the tooth’s enamel) is exposed, causing pain and sensitivity. Foods and beverages with a high acid content can soften enamel and cause it to lose its mineral content. However, this is slowly canceled out by your saliva. If your teeth are exposed to acidic foods too frequently, though, your mouth doesn’t have time to repair itself and enamel can be lost.
“Teeth break down,” Dr. Conner explains. “You have little tubules on the surface of enamel and those widen out, become more porous, and basically wear away when you eat foods with a high acidity.” To combat this, eat foods with a high pH balance alongside enamel-eroding foods to cut the acidity.
Try dairy and protein, which are high in calcium and low in sugar, suggests Dr. Conner. Also, fruits and vegetables with a high water and fiber content both build enamel and help restore it. “They kind of wipe the debris off teeth,” Dr. Conner says.
If your tooth enamel is already eroded, there are steps you can take to minimize damage and sensitivity. “Fluoride can cover up tubules and keep tooth structure from being sensitive or weakened,” advises Dr. Conner. “Also, calcium phosphate paste will help, as can dietary and habit changes.”
Top Teeth-Eroding Foods:
Citrus (oranges, lemons, limes)
Sports and Energy Drinks
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