Think of any actor or actress and one of the first things that comes to mind is their pearly white Hollywood smile. It is a look that many of us would love to have – a set of beautiful teeth that exemplify ‘perfect’ dental hygiene.

However, sustaining such a set of stunning teeth is much easier said than done, with a number of common foods and drinks often staining our teeth due to the amount of sugar, acid or tannins they contain. So, what can you do to keep your dental health in check?

A good daily hygiene regime is key, obviously, as are regular check-ups at the dentist. It’s also important to mention that it’s perfectly natural for teeth to gradually discolour over time, due to the enamel that coats your teeth changing as you grow older.

Nevertheless, consuming certain foods and drinks can make dental health diminish a lot faster, resulting in treatment costs down the line. Here are some of the biggest culprits you should avoid in order to maintain that pearly white smile.

  1. Sugary sweets and drinks

Everyone knows that sugar is bad for teeth, right? If you don’t, put a tooth in a glass of joke for a few nights and see what happens to it. You’ll be amazed – and also slightly disgusted.

Sugars are found in foods and drinks pretty much everywhere, although they are being more and more cracked down on. Biscuits, cakes, boiled sweets and chocolate are all sugary culprits which not only prove bad for our overall health, but our dental health as well. The sugar that these products contain latch onto our teeth, allowing mouth bacteria to feed off the deposits, and eventually cause tooth decay.

What’s more, sugar-filled fizzy drinks also contain high levels of acid in them which attack the smooth surface of our tooth enamel and make it easier for stains to settle into your teeth. Even sugar-free drinks can still be bad for your teeth, due to their highly acidic action.

  1. Coffee and tea

A staple of the British diet, who doesn’t love a cup of tea or coffee in the morning? It may be the perfect wake-me-up but unfortunately, your favourite brew also contains a substance called tannins, which are not so great for your teeth.

Tannins are plant-based compounds which help other staining compounds work on your teeth. They have an acidic effect so, upon consumption, can change the pH balance of your mouth to let other acidic foods damage your teeth more quickly.

If you drink a lot of black tea and coffee, your teeth will typically stain yellow. However, if you’re more of a green tea drinker, your teeth will usually turn slightly more grey. Try adding a dash of milk to your brew to reduce the tannins’ acidic effect or, alternatively, sip your tea or coffee through a special straw to bypass your teeth altogether. You might get a few strange looks in your local café though.

  1. Ice

You’d be forgiven for thinking that ice can’t be bad for your teeth – it’s only frozen water after all, right? Well, if you suck on it, it’s perfectly fine. The problems come when you decide to chew on it.

Chewing on ice or other hard substances damages enamel and can make you more susceptible to dental emergencies such as chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, or loosened crowns. Damaged enamel can also allow other foods and drinks to stain your teeth more easily.

  1. Red and white wine

Drinking red and white wine may be a nice, refreshing treat but both are bad for your dental health in different ways. Red wine contains tannins in it to help give it its red appearance. Ironically however, these same tannins cause your teeth to go grey when consumed excessively.

On the other hand, white wine is highly acidic, so the acids it contains cause your tooth’s enamel to break down, making your teeth stain a darker yellow colour. What’s more, the acids that white wine contain can make it easier for other foods to stain your teeth more deeply as well.

Red and white wines also contain alcohol in them which, when drinking, dries out your mouth. This in itself isn’t an issue, but having a dry mouth means that there is a lack of saliva available to prevent food from sticking to your teeth.


  1. Citrus fruit

Citrus fruits and tomatoes may be thought of as rich in nutrients and healthy to eat, but they’re pretty terrible for your teeth. This again is due to the acid they contain within them, which destroys the top layer of your tooth enamel and, in turn, exposes the yellowy/brown colour of dentin (the second layer of enamel) underneath.

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines and grapefruits are all major culprits but other acidic foods like tomatoes can be to blame as well.

  1. Bread

Nothing beats the smell of a freshly baked loaf. It truly is a treat for the nostrils. The same, however, cannot be said for your teeth, as eating too much bread can actually lead to cavities. This is because your mouth’s saliva acts by breaking down the starches that bread contains into sugar, forming a mushy paste. This paste then sticks to the crevices between your teeth, allowing the sugars to decay your teeth and cause cavities.

  1. Berries

Dark berries, such as blackberries, blueberries and pomegranates, are known for being rich in antioxidants but they also can be terrible for your teeth. This is because they contain a dark pigment in them which not only ruins your clothes, but also stain your teeth as well.

In conclusion…

Your smile is often the first thing that somebody notices about you. Make sure that you keep it full and healthy by doing your research and knowing which foods and drink to avoid.

Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that certain foods and drink won’t affect your dental health. Be sensible about what you choose to eat, and make sure to get your teeth looked at regularly. Otherwise, that pearly white smile of yours could pay the price.

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