[Editor’s Note: This article is part three of a three part series on dental care products. Don’t miss part one and part two!]

Some age-old dental care products attain the status of classics: the toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, for instance. Others, your dentist has to beg you to use. Dental floss gets top mention there.

And then there are specialty dental care products. Teeth whitening products, products for denture wearers, and those for emergencies all fall into this final, catchall group.

Teeth Whitening

Most folks want white, vibrant teeth. However, expert teeth whitening can be costly. Having your teeth whitened by a dentist is always the safe way to go. For a more affordable choice, home teeth whitening products can help.

Dental care products: For whiter teeth at home, teeth whitening trays or strips deliver the best results.

For whiter teeth at home, teeth whitening trays or strips deliver the best results.

Along with whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses, home teeth whitening products that use trays or strips, or that you paint-on, are available. Unlike the toothpastes and rinses, trays and strips keep their key ingredients in contact with teeth longer, so the results can be far more dramatic.

  • What these products do: Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the key ingredients used in most tooth whitening products. In each case, the peroxide gently bubbles away on tooth surfaces to scrub away the stains.
  • Why they’re important: If getting whiter teeth at home is your goal, dentists generally agree using trays or strips delivers the most dazzling results.
  • Who should use them: Using these products is generally a personal decision. Be sure to make it, if possible, with the advice of your dentist.

Denture Care   

Just like people with real teeth, denture wearers must brush their dentures every day. Brushing dentures should be a daily part of denture care because it helps to remove food debris and stop plaque buildup on the surface. It also prevents dentures from getting permanent stains and helps the wearer’s mouth stay healthy.

Some denture wearers use hand soap or mild dish washing liquid to clean their dentures. Both are acceptable. However, you should avoid using powdered household cleansers as they may be too abrasive. Also, do not use bleach, as this could whiten the pink parts of dentures.

  • What denture care products do: Special toothbrushes, toothpastes, and other products are available for cleaning dentures.
  • Why they’re important: Denture care products are milder than the products used on natural teeth in order to avoid damage to dentures.
  • Who should use them: Only denture wearers or their caregivers should use these products. Do not use denture care products to clean natural teeth.

Emergency Dental Care Products

Those of us who work in the insurance industry love Benjamin Franklin. After all, he was one of the early proponents of insurance. And when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” we think he hit the nail right on the head.

Dental care products: A dental emergency first-aid kit contains most of the things you’d need in a dental emergency.

A dental emergency first-aid kit contains most of the things you’d need in a dental emergency.

There are a number of specialty emergency dental care products available. Several retailers even offer a dental emergency first-aid kit. These generally contain most of what you’re likely to need for a dental emergency when there’s no dentist available.

  • What they’re for: Depending on the type of dental emergency you have, several retailers offer dental repair kits with items to relieve tooth pain, hold loose fillings and crowns in place, or transport a knocked out tooth. The contents typically include things like tweezers, cotton, antimicrobial wipes, ibuprofen, and gauze.
  • Why they’re important: These items will come in handy in the case of lost fillings, loose caps or crowns, teeth that have become dislodged, or a persistent toothache due to a cavity
  • Who should use them: Everyone wants to be prepared, but it’s not always necessary to buy a specialty kit.

If you don’t want to go to the expense of buying a dedicated dental emergency first-aid kit, perhaps check your regular first aid kit and see what types of additions would make it work for dental emergencies as well. To get an idea of the types of things to include, read our blog about loose teeth and other dental emergencies.

To learn more about dental care products, read part one and part two of our dental care products overview.

Read next: 5 Reasons Why You Need Dental Insurance

April is Couples Appreciation Month. Whether you’re newly dating or a pair that has been together for decades, this is an excellent time to take inventory of your relationship and discuss what you need to move forward into the next chapter of your lives together.

A Fresh Mouth for a Lively Romance

Oral hygiene is important whether you’re single or taken, but those who enjoy regular kisses with their lover or spouse will want to ensure that their mouths are fresh and clean. Not only does fresh breath make you feel more confident in romantic scenarios, but it also makes things better for your partner.

Bright Smiles for Happy Memories

Couples Appreciation Month is a good time to visit the dentist for a whitening treatment. One fun aspect of being a couple is looking back at pictures and seeing how you grew and changed together over the years. Those pictures will be more enjoyable if you’re displaying healthy smiles.

A Clean Mouth for a Healthy Body

Oral hygiene is about much more than simply maintaining a beautiful smile. Since the mouth is directly connected to the body’s circulatory system, bacteria can spread to your heart or other parts of the body.

Periodontal disease is also associated with a variety of other conditions, such as endometriosis. If you’ve been suffering from bleeding gums or other symptoms of periodontal disease that don’t respond to healthy hygiene practices, you might have a secondary condition. This Couples Awareness Month, make scheduling a dental checkup for you and your love a priority. Getting treatment for your dental conditions will help ensure you have a long and beautiful future together.

A Happy Mouth for Your Partner’s Health

You and your partner share many great things, but one thing you don’t want to share is nasty oral bacteria. The bacteria in your mouth can change quickly, but studies have shown that couples tend to share similar bacteria on the surface of their tongue. This means that you will be affected by the state of your lover’s mouth.

Healthy Habits for Happy Couples

One fun way to celebrate Couples Appreciation Month is to decide on some new healthy habits to adopt together. Some ideas include:

1. Oil Pulling

Oil pulling is an ancient practice that involves swishing and moving a small spoonful of oil around your mouth. Using oil as a mouthwash in this way can suck bad bacteria from the crevices between the teeth and underneath the gums. One study found that participants who swished with coconut oil for a period of 30 days had a significant decrease in plaque and gingivitis markers.

2. Using a Water Flosser

Water flossing can help you obtain and maintain a deeper clean. Purchasing duel water flossers as a couple is a great way to invest in the future. Couples who are truly close might even enjoy using the flossers together before bed each night. It can be a fun and satisfying part of your routine.

3. Agreeing to a Cleaning Schedule

Now that you know how important it is to maintain oral health, you and your honey might want to agree to committing to a cleaning schedule. Visiting the dentist for a cleaning twice a year will help you maintain
beautiful smiles and ensure you catch any problems before they get worse.

Committing to health is a positive way to celebrate your love as a couple. For more information on oral health and how it can affect your dental insurance, please contact us today.

A friendly, beaming and healthy smile generally puts people at ease and makes others feel welcome in your presence. However, years of anecdotal evidence and even professional and academic studies show that a good smile can do much more. Keeping each tooth healthy and looking its best will improve your smile in the long run, and a great smile predicts a longer lifespan, improves self-esteem and carries with it a whole host of other benefits.
Power of SmileBigger Smiles Equal Longer Lives
One of the most remarkable things documented in recent academic studies of smiles is that the bigger one’s smile, the longer one’s life will likely be. Wayne State University studied photos of Major League baseball players found on 1952 baseball cards and found a correlation between the players’ lifespans and their smiling.
Players who smiled on these card photos lived, on average, up to seven years longer than those who did not smile.Why is this? Research is still being conducted, but bigger smiles seem to lead to longer lives because of the effects that smiling has on the human body. Smiling reduces the level of several stress hormones, and a lower stress level means fewer health problems.
Smiling also leads to lower blood pressure, and given that high blood pressure is a serious health issue for many people in our society, it makes sense that those who smile a lot tend to live longer than those who do not smile very often.
In a Bad Mood? Smile and You Will Feel Better
Researchers have also documented that smiling leads to an improved mood. If you want to feel happier, paying attention to oral health and visiting the dentist on a regular basis is key. When you feel confident about your smile, you are going to be more willing to smile, and thus you will smile more often.
Since smiling causes the brain to release endorphins and other mood-enhancing chemicals, this means that you will feel happier. True, happiness leads to more smiling, but more smiling also leads to more happiness.


Smiling Improves Your Relationships
It should be no surprise that those who report feeling the most satisfied in their relationships are those who smile a great deal. Some research involving high school yearbooks has shown that those who smile in their yearbook photos tend to feel as if they have effective relationships and are able to connect with others well.

Researchers surveyed people in their current relationships and then compared their answers with their high school yearbook pictures from several decades ago. The result was that those who reported the most happiness in their relationships also had some of the biggest smiles in their high school photos.

The Smiling, Self-Confident You
People who smile a lot are perceived by others to have greater self-confidence, and self-confidence leads to many good things in life. A high level of self-confidence helps you meet new people, makes you more attractive to prospective employers and helps you recover more quickly after a loss.

If you take good care of your mouth, you will be proud of your healthy smile, and you will show it more. Show that smile more, and you will grow in your self-confidence. At the end of the day, others will definitely take notice.

How to Improve Your Smile
Since smiling leads to so many good things, it is vital to maintain good oral health so that you will want to smile frequently. What can you do to improve your smile and dental health? Experts recommend the following:

Watch Your Diet—Eating too many foods with processed sugars increases your risk of cavities and other dental problems. Your dentist may have also told you that coffee, tea and other beverages can stain your teeth if you are not careful. You do not have to cut out these things entirely, but consuming them in moderation will reduce your odds of cavities and yellowing, both of which make your smile look less than its best.

Brush Regularly—Brushing after every meal is another proven way to improve your smile. Using your tooth brush like your mom told you to will remove germs, bacteria and other enemies of a good smile.

Remember to Floss—Lots of people brush on a regular basis. Fewer people floss as often as they should. Yet flossing is the only way to remove bacteria and germs from certain portions of your mouth. Without flossing, these bacteria and germs will grow and multiply, and you may end up with bleeding gums, cavities and lost teeth. None of those things are conducive to a smile of which you can be proud.

Use Mouthwash—In addition to brushing and flossing, using a good mouthwash will assist you in acquiring the best smile. Mouthwash kills germs you miss when you brush and floss, providing an extra level of smile protection.

• Professional Whitening—Even those who are diligent to care for their smile will find that their teeth get discolored over time. Your dental office can perform professional whitening that will help each tooth look as white as it did the first time it came in to your mouth. A safe, effective whitening procedure is one of the easiest and surest ways to improve your smile.

Regular Dental Checkups—Finally, seeing your dentist regularly will keep your mouth healthy and your smile looking its best. Your dental provider will be able to catch problems before they get serious and harm your smile. Quality dentists also provide a level of care that makes sure your daily routine of brushing and flossing is actually achieving the results you are seeking.

Keep Your Smile Healthy
Good oral health means a healthy smile, which leads to a longer life, a happier disposition and many other benefits. Pay attention to your smile by doing what you can to keep it in good health, and you will reap the rewards.

Choosing the right type of toothpaste may not seem like rocket science. However, it is important to know what options exist and which ones are best for individual needs. For example, a person who has sensitive teeth would not want to use the same type of toothpaste that someone who wants to whiten their smile uses.
This toothpaste guide will cover which types are the best for different oral needs based on key ingredients.

Best Toothpaste For Sensitive Teeth

Research suggests that as much as 46 percent of Americans have or have had tooth sensitivity at least once during their lives. Sensitivity may last a few minutes or several days. Both hot and cold foods and beverages may trigger sensitivity. The sensitivity may be due to enamel erosion, new fillings or several other reasons.

There are many toothpaste products designed to help relieve the sensitivity feeling and any pain associated with it. These toothpastes typically include strontium chloride or potassium nitrate. Both substances build up blocks in the pathways that span from the tooth’s surface to the tooth’s inner nerves.

Although the effects are lasting when people use the toothpaste as directed, relief may take up to several weeks for some people. Some products may also include a mild analgesic for instant pain relief.

Best Toothpaste For Teeth Whitening

People who want to maintain a bright white smile should choose a good whitening toothpaste in addition to any teeth whitening product that may already be used. Whitening toothpastes are popular for people who drink coffee, tea, wine and other staining liquids frequently.

There are a few misconceptions when it comes to this type of paste. First, many people believe that whitening toothpastes contain bleach. Nearly all whitening products that come in the form of toothpaste do not contain bleach. They normally contain substances such as baking soda that are gently abrasive and bind to stains.

The combination of these qualities helps the substance stick to stains on the teeth and lift them away without causing harm to the enamel. Several of the best whitening toothpaste products contain a small amount of peroxide to remove stains and lighten the color of the teeth.

Best Toothpaste For Tartar Control And Bad Breath

A layer of bacteria-filled plaque forms on the teeth after eating. When plaque is not removed, it turns into hard tartar deposits and is hard to remove. Dentists can remove it with a professional cleaning. However, tartar buildup on the teeth can further damage the enamel and cause bad breath.

When it builds up under the gums, it can lead to gum disease and gum-line cavities. Products with zinc citrate or tetrasodium pyrophosphate are designed to combat tartar. People who have chronic bad breath may also have a large amount of oral bacteria.

Toothpastes that also contain triclosan are beneficial for this. Triclosan is an antibiotic designed to kill some types of oral bacteria. When choosing a paste for tartar control, experts recommend choosing one with multiple plaque-fighting agents.

Best Toothpaste For Enamel Protection

Sugar, acidic foods, poor dental hygiene and genetics are all common causes of poor enamel on teeth. When enamel is gone, it cannot be fully restored. Although some products claim to do this, they actually have agents to help strengthen the teeth to prevent further damage.

The best way to enjoy strong enamel is to prevent erosion instead of trying to treat broken-down enamel. Dental experts recommend that all adults and children use a toothpaste with fluoride to protect tooth enamel every day.

When bacteria feed on sugars and other substances on the teeth, an acid is formed that normally damages enamel. Fluoride helps prevent the damage by strengthening and re-mineralizing tooth enamel. It is best to brush with a fluoride toothpaste twice daily.

Always read the toothpaste ingredients on a package before buying it. Keep in mind that the ingredients are listed in order from the highest concentration to the lowest. Never buy a paste that contains the toxic substance diethylene glycol. It is found in some products that were made in China.

The FDA actually recommends avoiding all toothpaste products that were made in China. Although there are many brands claiming to be the best, choosing quality over price should always be a priority. Quality toothpastes are approved by the ADA. If a paste has the ADA seal, this also means it contains fluoride. Remember that it is important for any toothpaste to contain fluoride.

By practicing good oral hygiene and using the right toothpaste, it is easier to avoid the high costs of oral diseases and extensive dental work. Since extensive work is expensive even with insurance, it is best to receive the free or low-cost preventative cleanings and exams covered by an insurer to maintain oral health.

Teeth whitening before and after

Having teeth professionally whitened by a dentist is the safest way to keep them their brightest.

Everyone wants white, healthy-looking teeth, but professional teeth whitening can be expensive. No wonder home teeth whitening is such a hot search topic. We’re all looking to save money without (hopefully) sacrificing our pearly-whites!

Even in tough times, though, people are apparently willing to spend a little extra to ensure a winning smile. Industry analysts at IBISWorld report that, in the face of a difficult economy during 2012, the Teeth Whitening Product Manufacturing industry was still able to grow. The analysts estimated the industry’s revenues for 2012 at nearly $383 million, a 3.7% increase over 2011.

Having your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist is always the safest way to keep your teeth their brightest. But for those who are looking for a more affordable alternative, home teeth whitening products and a few homemade alternatives may be able to help. Here’s a rundown.

The basic ingredient in most whiteners: peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the key bleaching ingredients used in most tooth whitening products. Whichever type is used, the peroxide safely bubbles away on the surface of tooth enamel and helps to scrub away stains. Teeth get whiter when the concentration of peroxide is higher and when the peroxide is left in contact with teeth longer.

…gums can become irritated if the peroxide solution they contain is trapped against the gums.

There are some possible side effects of using teeth whitening products that contain peroxide, though. For example, some people temporarily experience increased tooth sensitivity after using products that contain peroxide. In addition, when using trays and strips with peroxide (see below), gums can become irritated if the peroxide solution they contain is trapped against the gums.

And here’s the kicker: after bleaching teeth with a peroxide-based product, the enamel is more receptive to new stains for 48 hours.

Home teeth whitening products for routine care

With more and more home teeth whitening products available, whitening teeth can be part of anyone’s daily oral care routine. Today, there is a variety of toothpastes and oral rinses that can help make teeth whitening at home easy and practically automatic.

Typically, toothpastes that help to whiten teeth are made with slightly abrasive particles. The abrasives help to scour away stains. However, because the abrasives used in home whitening products are not as strong as those used by dental hygienists, it may take a few days before you see noticeably whiter teeth when using whitening toothpastes alone.

…a variety of toothpastes and oral rinses can help make teeth whitening at home easy and practically automatic.

Whitening mouthwashes and rinses are also available for daily use. These generally contain a small amount of peroxide that washes away minor surface stains before they have a chance to become more permanent. Whitening rinses stay in contact with teeth for a very short time, though, which means their effectiveness is typically lower compared to whitening toothpastes. Still, using the two types of products together may help you maintain a healthy smile.

Breaking away from the routine: trays, strips, and paint-on teeth whiteners

In addition to using whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses as part of the daily tooth care routine, a variety of additional home teeth whitening products are available. These include trays, strips, and paint-on teeth whiteners.

Dentists generally agree that using teeth whitening trays or strips delivers the most dazzling results at home. Unlike toothpastes and rinses, trays and strips keep the tooth whitening solution in contact with teeth longer, so the results are more dramatic. Achieving results that are more striking also requires a greater time commitment. To achieve the desired shade of whiteness, most manufacturers recommend using trays or strips for a specified period each day for several days.

…paint-on teeth whiteners offer yet another option.

For those who find trays and strips uncomfortable (due to sensitive teeth, for example), paint-on teeth whiteners offer yet another option. The whitener is painted directly onto the surface of teeth, so no trays or strips are needed. The paint-on whitening solution is less likely to get on the gums, where it can cause irritation.

Natural teeth whitening home remedies

Can you whiten your teeth using walnut tree bark or with banana peels? It turns out there are a few natural teeth whitening recipes you can experiment with at home.

One of the most widely recommended home tooth whiteners is baking soda. Baking soda is a safe, mildly abrasive powder that can help scour away surface stains on teeth. Similar to the solution in teeth whitening trays, baking soda can be rubbed on teeth after being mixed with a few drops of hydrogen peroxide. Let it remain on the tooth surface for a few minutes, and then rinse it away.

Be careful to keep the baking soda solution on your teeth only…

You can also whiten teeth by brushing with a solution of three parts baking soda and 1 part water. Be careful to keep the baking soda solution on your teeth only, though. In combination with a toothbrush, baking soda can be hard on your gums and may cause irritation.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can find numerous articles online about whitening teeth using exotic ingredients, such as fresh sage leaves, hardwood ash, and walnut bark. A word of caution, though: check with your dentist or dental hygienist before you go too far out on a limb, so to speak.

Easy does it!

While you can use simple ingredients at home to get teeth whiter, getting them their whitest (especially if there is any moderate to severe staining to begin with) will probably mean making a trip to the dentist. If you do try whitening your teeth at home using natural ingredients, be sure to go slowly and allow your teeth and gums to rest and recover between treatments.

…never repeat a natural teeth whitening treatment more than once a week until you reach the shade of whiteness desired.

A good rule of thumb is to never repeat a natural teeth whitening treatment more than once a week until you reach the shade of whiteness desired. After that, reduce treatments to once a month at most, or better still, every other month. Otherwise, you run the risk of wearing down tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities, and developing tooth sensitivities.

Do you have a favorite home teeth whitening solution? Let us know what has worked for you in our comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!

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Berries on wooden background

Many of the foods that promote tooth stains are also among the best choices for the vitamins and minerals essential to strong teeth and bones.

If you ask your favorite search engine, you’ll discover there are about 27 million reasons why having white teeth is important. However, we think one reason stands out: looking and feeling your best.

The trouble is: many of the foods that promote tooth stains are also among the best choices for the vitamins and minerals essential to strong teeth and bones. Intensely colored foods such as dark red beets and many kinds of berries can leave behind substances that weaken or cling to tooth surfaces and lead to stains.

Let’s take a look at some foods and habits that can contribute to yellow or brown teeth. We’ll also look at ways you can minimize the potential for staining without cutting vital nutrients out of your daily diet.

The compounds that stain and discolor teeth

There are three primary components that contribute to tooth staining. These are: intense color, acidity, and the presence of tannins.

  • Intensely colored foods and beverages: As a general rule of thumb, foods that are more intense in color have greater potential for staining your teeth. The reason? Dye-like molecules called chromogens that love to cling to enamel tooth surfaces.
  • Acidic foods and beverages: Acid erodes and softens dental enamel, which makes it that much easier for chromogens to latch on and stain teeth. The foods and beverages that contain relatively high levels of acid may not be intensely colored at all – think white wine – but the acid-based erosion contributes to staining all the same.
  • Tannins: The third member of the unholy trinity of stain-promoting agents is tannins. Tannins are found in a wide variety of foods and beverages (red wine is the poster child here). They work together with chromogens and boost their ability to adhere to enamel and stain teeth.
October is National Dental Hygiene month! Learn more at ADHA.org

Foods and beverages that stain teeth

Intensely colored, acidic, and tannin-rich substances come into contact with your teeth through a broad assortment of foods and beverages. Here’s a roundup of the types of food that are most likely to stain and discolor teeth:

  • Colas and sports drinks: The combination of acidity and chromogens in many colas and sports drinks give these items considerable staining ability. The beverages may be light or dark in color and still contribute to staining simply due to the enamel softening effects of the acids they contain.
  • Dressings and sauces: Like other deeply colored foods, some dressings and sauces can contribute to brown or yellow teeth. For example, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, mustard, tomato sauce, curry sauce, and other deeply colored sauces can leave behind stains due in many cases to the dental double whammy: both acidity and chromogens.
  • Intensely colored produce: Vegetables and fruits – and the juices, pies, and other foods and beverages made from these items – are rich in chromogens and can therefore contribute to tooth staining. Included in this category are beets, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapes, pomegranates, and raspberries, to name only a few.
  • Tea and coffee: Most people know that frequent coffee consumption can stain teeth. They may not know the reason: coffee is rich in chromogens. Black tea, though, gets even worse marks from many dentists, not because of chromogens, but because it is so loaded with tannins.
  • Wine: Red, white, rosé – whatever the shade of your favorite wine, there’s a good chance it may help dim the appearance of your teeth. That’s because even if they do not contain tannins (as red wines notoriously do), wines are acidic and can therefore weaken tooth enamel, making it easier for chromogens from other sources to do their dirty work.

5 tips for minimizing tooth stains

There are certain things that you can and should do to help prevent tooth staining and discoloration. If you don’t smoke or have quit smoking, congratulations! You’ve already taken one giant step towards keeping your smile as bright as possible.

Avoiding sweets and other foods and beverages with high amounts of intense coloring (such as coffee and tea, red wine, candies, popsicles, jams, jellies, and pies) makes sense for any number of reasons, not least of which is the effect these items can have on tooth color and whiteness.

But what can you do to minimize the staining potential of all those other things that are so good and, often, so good for you?

Here are our top 5 tips for minimizing tooth stains:

  1. Eat your greens first: According to some sources, certain foods like broccoli and lettuce help to protect teeth against staining when consumed first.
  2. Use a straw: Sipping darkly colored, acidic, or tannin-rich beverages through a straw can decrease the amount of time the liquids are in contact with your teeth.
  3. Swallow without too much delay: To minimize your exposure to stain producing compounds, avoid holding stain producing foods in your mouth longer than necessary for proper chewing and swallowing.
  4. Brush, but not right away: Immediately after consuming acidic or tannin rich foods or beverages, tooth enamel is softer and more vulnerable than at other times. To avoid damage to the enamel and wash away much of the potentially harmful residue, swish with water and wait about 30 minutes before brushing.
  5. Chew sugarless gum: A good way to fight stains after eating or drinking, chewing sugarless gum mimics the mechanical action of a toothbrush or floss to help remove stain-causing substances from tooth surfaces.

It can be easy to minimize the potential for tooth stains, but just be sure you aren’t also eliminating vital nutrients in the process.

How do you keep your teeth looking their whitest? Let us know in the comment section below!

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For more information about dental health, including a glossary of dental insurance terms and articles about oral health and dentistry, visit our dental resources pages.





Everybody wants their smile to be as white as possible, right? And by now we’re all well aware of cosmetic dentistry’s various teeth-whitening options, from whitening toothpastes to bleaching.

White teeth and bright smiles may be marred by foods.

Keep a white, bright smile by watching what you eat and drink.

But keeping a white, bright smile can also depend on what we eat and drink. Knowing what those foods are, and why they can stain our teeth, can provide insights about how to keep teeth white.

There are a few factors that make certain foods stain-worthy. First are molecules called chromogens. These intensely pigmented molecules can easily attach themselves to dental enamel. Chromogens are found in red wine, coffee, colas, berries and sauces.

Foods and beverages with a high acidity level can also open the door to staining. Acidic products erode dental enamel and soften teeth for easier chromogen attachment. Other chromogen enablers, called tannins, are often found in tea, wine and berries.

Cosmetic dentistry follows a pretty simple standard regarding teeth staining foods: If you think it’ll stain your white tablecloth, it’ll probably stain your teeth.

Watching what kind of stain-enhancers you consume can enhance your smile for years to come.

Foods That Stain Teeth

Here are some foods and beverages to look out for:

  • Coffee/Tea: Tannins in teas are stain enablers, while coffee is rich in chromogens. Some dentists feel tea has the potential for worse staining than coffee because of the damage tannins can do to enamel.
  • Wine: Red wine is both acidic and tannin and chromogen-rich.  It’s a triple threat on the stain scale! White wine is a little sneakier, promoting an environment where other food compounds, like those found in teas, can better stain teeth.
  • Sauces: Watch out for soy, tomato and curry sauces, as well as any sauce that appears deeply colored.
  • Berries: Dark berries (blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, etc.) and the juices and foods made from them are going to contribute to teeth staining.
  • Sports drinks and colas: Both these drink types are highly acidic, even when they’re clear or lightly colored. Sipping one at your desk all day long? Don’t be surprised if your teeth start to stain.
  • Sweets: Cosmetic dentistry has another rule of thumb on this one: if it stains your tongue, it’s probably going to stain your teeth.

Tips to help keep your teeth whiter

So, are you going to have to give up your favorite soy sauce soaked sushi? Or cut out wine altogether? No! Here are a few simple tips to help keep your teeth whiter without having to eat or drink like a monk:

  • Practice a little moderation. If you find yourself consuming a lot of the foods listed above, think about cutting back or finding a non-staining alternative half the time.
  • Swallow. That’s right, when you swallow what you’re eating or drinking promptly, you minimize your teeth’s exposure to stain-causing foods.
  • Try a straw. Following the theory of limited exposure, using a straw can protect your front teeth, especially from staining beverages.
  • Follow up with a swish of water. Cleaning out your mouth after a meal is a good idea to avoid plaque build-up, generally. With regard to acidic foods and beverages, swishing with water is actually preferable to brushing after a meal because acids make teeth vulnerable for up to 30 minutes after they’re consumed. Brushing can contribute to damaging the enamel if done too soon after an acidic meal or drink.
  • Get chewing! Sugarless gum after a meal is an effective food particle and stain-agent remover.

Of course, you need to keep brushing and flossing daily, and avoid all the other things that can weaken enamel or cause staining (we’re looking at you, smokers and tobacco chewers). Your own personal approach to cosmetic dentistry (watching what kind of stain-enhancers you consume, that is) can enhance your smile for years to come.

What are you doing to protect your teeth against stains? How’s that working? Share your experience in a comment below!

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