Common Teeth Staining Culprits and How to Prevent Them

woman drinking coffee

Everyone wants a sparkling white smile. But certain habits and foods can dull and discolor your teeth over time. Understanding what causes stains is the first step to preventing them. Doing this keeps your smile looking its best.

Coffee and Tea

Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea are notorious teeth stainers. They contain dark pigments that attach to tooth enamel. The more frequently you drink them, the more they can dye your pearly whites.

Limiting consumption can help curb staining. Also, consider drinking coffee and tea with a straw to direct the liquid towards the back of the mouth. It reduces contact with the front teeth. Rinsing your mouth with water after your beverage also helps wash away residue.

Red Wine

The vivid pigments that give red wine its rich color also cling to tooth enamel. Over time, this produces unsightly grayish or brownish stains. Enjoy red wine in moderation to limit its impact. Sipping water between glasses of wine can aid in rinsing your mouth. Like other staining beverages, using a straw helps bypass the teeth.

Soy Sauce

The deep brown hue of soy sauce indicates its teeth-staining potential. The longer soy sauce sits on your teeth, the more time it has to produce stubborn discoloration. When cooking with soy sauce, taste a small amount and rinse immediately after. Avoid sipping or slurping the sauce directly from a dish. You can also choose lighter dipping sauces with less pigment.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar’s flavorful dark color comes from aging in wooden casks. Those rich pigments seep into your tooth enamel upon contact. Use balsamic vinegar sparingly to limit stains. Diluting it with oil also decreases its staining power. It is also best to rinse your mouth with water after eating balsamic-dressed salads or bread.

Curries and Salsas

Spicy foods like curries and salsas often contain turmeric, cumin, and chili peppers. These ingredients can impart a yellowish or orangey tinge to your teeth. Enjoying these zesty foods in moderation helps prevent stains. Also, crunchy chips or vegetables scrub your teeth naturally while you chew. Be sure to rinse your mouth afterward.


Although healthy for your body, vibrant berries like blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries can discolor teeth. Their juices cling to crevices and build up over time. Rinsing thoroughly with water after eating berries flushes away much of the juice. Mixing berries with whitening foods like yogurt, milk, or cheese also helps counteract the staining.

Tomato Sauce

Pasta sauce, ketchup, and tomato juice contain brightly pigmented lycopene, leaving teeth looking slightly orange. Drinking water while eating tomato-based foods helps rinse your teeth. Avoid mouthfuls of sauce and use a fork to push food towards your back molars. Be sure to brush any remnants from your teeth after eating meals with tomatoes.

Hard Candies

Hard, sticky candies like lollipops and mints sit on your teeth for extended periods while you suck or chew them. This gives their dyes ample opportunity to penetrate enamel. Minimize discoloration by choosing lighter-colored candy options, like yellow, rather than brown. Also, rinsing with water right after prevents the dye from setting into pits and cracks.

Crusty Bread

The bread crust's darker exterior can transfer temporary but unappealing discoloration to your teeth. The abrasive texture also makes it more challenging to brush off. Softening crusty bread in soup or dipping sauce limits its teeth-staining effects. Avoid chomping directly down on crusts, and brush gently but thoroughly after consumption to remove remnants.

Bottom Line

Knowing the key culprits, you can still enjoy your favorite dishes and drinks while keeping your smile gleaming. Be proactive by rinsing, brushing, and making minor tweaks to your habits. Taking these simple precautions will help deter stains.

For more dental hygiene tips, visit Dr. Sam's Premier Dentistry at our office in Sherman, Texas. Call 903-708-6400 to schedule an appointment today.