Why Do Coffee and Other Beverages Stain Our Teeth, and How Can We Stop It?

Teeth WhiteningWhy is it that so many of our favorite beverages have some of the worst effects on our teeth? It seems totally unfair that something that makes you want to smile also makes your smile a little less lustrous.

We all work hard to maintain a bright, white smile, and that means we have to consider the things we eat and drink and how much they’ll affect our teeth. There might even be some things you can do to minimize their effect.

First, let’s take a look at why these drinks do what they do. What do they have in them that disagrees with an otherwise shiny enamel.

  • Chromogens – These are dark pigments that have a direct effect on your teeth. They’re the same elements that dyers use to create specially colored compounds.
  • Tannin – This is called an astringent, and it’s used for activities like tanning leather, dying fabric, and making ink. Something like that is definitely going to have a noticeable effect on your teeth.
  • Acid – Some drinks have a high acidity, but even a mild acid can roughen up the surface of your teeth, making it more open to discoloration.

So know that we know what is causing the problem, let’s look at which of our favorite beverages use them.

  • Coffee – You’ll find a lot of chromogens in coffee and a pretty strong dose of tannin (though not as much in, say, tea). There’s a reason why your porcelain mugs end up discolored, and it’s doing the same thing to your teeth.
  • Red Wine – While all wines are acidic (which is bad enough for your teeth), red in particular has chromogens and tannins in high supply, so it’s delivering something of a 1-2 punch.
  • Tea – Different teas have different chemical makeups, but they’re pretty high in tannins. Black tea, especially, will be quick to discolor your teeth.
  • Soft Drinks and Sports Drinks – There is a lot of acidity in these beverages, and while there aren’t any chemicals in them that could be used to tan leather, they do have plenty of other elements that contribute to a duller smile.

Professional Whitening and Maintenance

While there are a lot of good whitening products that you can buy and use at home, they can’t deliver the same kind of results that a professional treatment will. In a single visit, you can see results up to 10 shades brighter, effectively removing the effects of all that tannin and chromogen.

However, in order to maintain that appearance, you’re going to have to do some work. While we’re not suggesting you give up your favorite drinks completely, we are going to recommend a few simple things that can help you counteract some of the effects of these stainers.

First, brush or rinse immediately after you drink some of the main offenders. If you follow up with water, you’ll be able to wash away some of those leave-behinds before they can cause a lot of problems.

Next, consider drinking through a straw. While that’s not the classiest way to enjoy a nice red wine, it will limit your teeth’s exposure to the liquid.

Finally, make sure that you do use some of those home whitening products once or twice a week. Follow the instructions for the best effects, and you’ll be able to make that professional whitening last much longer.


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