Do you know what is staining your teeth? Coloured foods and drinks obviously can discolour your teeth. However, it is not as simple as that. There may be sticky, acidic and dehydrating compounds at play as well. Let’s have a look at all 4 of these things and their effect on teeth staining:
- Coloured Foods and Drinks
The heavily pigmented compounds in foods and drinks are called chromogens. Chromogens stain tooth structure with their coloured pigments. Beetroot, berries, curry, soy sauce, red wine, tea and coffee are classic examples of foods and drinks that contain a lot of chromogens and can stain teeth.
- Sticky Foods and Drinks
Some foods and drinks also contain tannins which are plant compounds. Tannins make it easier for chromogens to stick to tooth structure. So foods and drinks with both strong chromogens and a lot of tannins tend to cause more staining of your teeth. The reason why berries, red wine and tea are great at staining teeth is because they contain both chromogens and a lot of tannins.
- Acidic Foods and Drinks
Foods and drinks that are acidic soften and roughen tooth structure so chromogens more readily attach to it. Chromogens embedded into the outer layers of eroded tooth are also more difficult to clean off so the colours stay on your teeth for longer. Wine is particularly acidic. Red wine having more chromogens stains teeth itself, while white wine erodes tooth structure, allowing chromogens from other foods and drinks to cause staining.
- Dehydrating Foods and Drinks
Foods and drinks that contain dehydrating compounds such as caffeine will dry your mouth. When your mouth is dry, chromogens are not diluted by saliva and the surfaces of your teeth are exposed to more intense colours. The lack of saliva also means the chromogens are not washed away from your teeth so colours stay on your teeth longer. The reason why tea and coffee are particularly good at staining teeth is due to a combination of their chromogens and dehydrating effect.