We live in an appearance-obsessed society where beauty standards are set unrealistically high. When we are exposed to images of super, bright, white teeth throughout the media, it’s no wonder we feel self-conscious of our own natural teeth. In this article, I will explain exactly what causes yellow teeth and how you can prevent it from occurring.
Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?
Straight up, the first reason your teeth turn yellow is because of certain foods and drinks which cause staining. The second reason is due to acids in particular foods and drinks that wear away at your teeth’s white enamel coating. Soda is major culprit as it is highly acidic, and regularly drinking it can cause the protective outer layer of your teeth to wear down.
Tooth enamel is naturally white, when it is at its thickest. However as it becomes worn down, it turns translucent and the next layer of the tooth underneath which is named dentin, becomes visible. This dentin layer of your teeth is a naturally yellower tone compared to the enamel that covers it. Therefore, as your enamel layer becomes thinner, the more yellow your teeth will appear. This is why elderly people tend to have yellow teeth. The older your teeth, the more likely it is that you would have worn down their white protective coatings.
12 Foods and Drinks That Cause Yellow Teeth
1. Black Coffee – Coffee is a big teeth stainer. Due to the outer layer of the tooth being very porous, it means that food and drink are easily absorbed, and dark colored drinks like coffee cause staining. But don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you not to drink coffee. Instead, I am going to give you a nifty tip – try adding milk to lighten the color of your coffee. As a nice little bonus, you will also be getting milk’s calcium and vitamin D, which keep teeth and bones strong.
2. Tea – You may think that tea is less of a tooth stainer than coffee, but that’s not necessarily the case. Tea contains tannins, which stain teeth. But tea has great health benefits so don’t throw out your tea. Know that like coffee, adding more milk to make your tea a lighter color will help. Also, try avoiding black teas such as English Breakfast and Earl Grey. Instead, why not be super-healthy and enjoy green, white and herbal varieties. As they are lighter in color, they will cause less staining.
3. Red Wine – Red wine may love your heart (and may delay Alzheimer’s disease and dementia), but it doesn’t treat your teeth with the same respect. Just look in the mirror after a glass of Shiraz and you’ll see what I mean. But before you throw out a perfectly good bottle, let me inform you that studies have shown that moderate consumption of wine reduces inflammation. And while some research favors the advantages of red wine, still a few studies suggest that both kinds of wine have similar effects. Even if there’s no verdict which one is better for overall health, you can still go for a bottle of white wine instead or simply swish water around your mouth after drinking a glass of red.
4. Cola – Dark sodas are not friends of your teeth because of their staining color. The temperature of soda you drink can also be a factor as very cold (as well as very hot) temperatures can cause teeth to contract, which makes them more porous and prone to staining. Furthermore, the phosphoric and citric acids in soda erode tooth enamel and the first one is linked to multiple health issues. While the artificial sweeteners in diet soda don’t cause tooth decay, they can make you sick and diabetic.
5. Dark Colored Fruit Juice – Although pure fruit juices can be good for you, they are not so good for your teeth. The dark color, along with the acids, can yellow teeth. In order to keep your teeth pearly white, drink fruit juice spritzers instead, or stick with light-colored solid fruit. Ever heard the saying an apple a day keeps the dentist away? Well there’s truth behind that. Apples’ crisp texture and light color are like a natural detergent on teeth and clean away stains.
6. Popsicles or Slushies – Many people love a refreshing popsicle on a hot summer’s day, but have you noticed how they stain your lips and tongue? Well if a food stains your mouth, then it’s going to stain your teeth too. In order to avoid this, but still enjoy a refreshing treat, go for a light colored ice instead.
7. Soy Sauce – Dark beverages aren’t the only teeth staining culprit — dark sauces used to flavor foods, such as soy sauce, can have the same annoying effect. A general rule to go by is that if a food can stain your carpet or clothes, then it can stain your teeth too. If you eat sushi or Chinese food, replace the soy sauce with another healthier option, as after reading the previous article “Is Soy Bad For You or Good?” you may not want to consume it anyway.
8. Balsamic Vinegar – This salad dressing is delicious and a favorite of many people, but there’s a price to pay for sloshing it over your healthy salad. With it being a dark color, you guessed it – it stains your teeth. But don’t throw out your salad as according to dentist Dr. Jonathan B. Levine of New York City the lettuce helps to protect your teeth from stains. The reason for that is that lettuce forms a thin layer over your teeth that acts as a barrier to stain-forming foods. You can replace your dark colored vinegar with a lighter-colored vinegar or you can replace it with lemon juice.
9. Tomato Sauce – Many people love tomato sauce. Whether it’s spaghetti marinara or Bolognese; Unfortunately though, tomato-based sauces can stain your teeth. But this is not going to stop tomato sauce lovers from enjoying a hearty bowl of pasta dowsed in delectable tomato sauce. What you can do is eat an appetizer of spinach or broccoli first. These veggies, like lettuce, cleverly form a protective film over your teeth so foods that cause stains can’t seep into your teeth pores.
10. Blueberries – Blueberries are considered a superfood and are full of antioxidants. They are also featured in my e-book The Healing Berry Guide where you can find more information about the healing powers of berries including healthy and easy berry recipes that are sure to boost your health. So don’t let me put you off from eating them by telling you that their dark blue skins can stain teeth. Just make sure to swirl water around your mouth after you’ve eaten them.
11. Beets – If you’ve ever eaten beets, you know that they can stain! Particularly so in juice form, which is how many people tend to consume them. So if you are a beet fan, swish your mouth with water so that stains don’t have time to form.
12. Curry – Curry is infamous for making teeth yellow. But we carry on eating it because it’s so delicious, which is good enough reason for me. Just follow the same advice I gave earlier – after eating your curry, swish your mouth with water.
Simple Ways to Prevent Yellow Teeth
- After consuming some of the staining food and drinks I have mentioned, it may seem logical to reach for the toothbrush and give your teeth a good old clean. However, that would actually do more harm than good is some cases. Tooth enamel may soften after consuming acidic foods or drinks for at least half an hour afterwards. If you are brushing during this time, then you could be wearing away the weakened enamel. However, the enamel should harden within the hour so brushing your teeth afterwards with a soft bristled toothbrush shouldn’t do any harm.
- This may sound weird but the more saliva you have in your mouth after eating, the better. Your mouth will naturally produce more saliva after you take a gulp of water, when you’ve finished eating (which is why my water tip is such a good one!). Saliva is your mouth’s natural defense against staining, cavities and also against enamel erosion.
- Sugar-free gum is marketed as being ‘healthy’ for your teeth. However, most sugar-free gum contains potentially dangerous aspartame or other artificial sweeteners so it is healthier to avoid it. Opt for a stevia based gum instead.