Not that you’d know it from the rain-soaked forecast for the next week or so, but summertime usually means sunny, warm days spent trying to keep cool.
Anything cold and crisp is welcomed, from indoor activities to iced drinks and frozen concoctions.
Many of our favorite snacks and swigs have properties that make them more likely to stain teeth. Dr. Janice Spada, your cosmetic dentist in Sudbury, shares her guide to stain-causing summer treats and what you can do to enjoy them safely.
It’s Not Always About Color
A popular misconception holds that only darkly colored drinks and foods contribute to stained teeth, but this isn’t at all true, says Dr. Spada.
When you introduce anything acidic--citrus fruit, wine, or yogurt, for example--into your mouth, the acidity weakens your tooth enamel, albeit briefly. Minerals from saliva and your diet help restore strength to the enamel, that is, assuming that your diet on the whole is not highly acidic.
Small pits and worn areas appear in the tooth enamel, making the tooth more susceptible to stains and discoloration. In teeth with badly worn enamel, the layer of yellow dentin is exposed. Many of our patients mistake this dentin for stained enamel.
White wines are an excellent example. Their relatively light taste makes them a warm-weather alternative to heavier red wines, and they are often served with popular summer meals, such as grilled meats, salads, and seafood.
Light color notwithstanding, white wines such as sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and Chardonnay are highly acidic and therefore capable of damaging tooth enamel. The same is true of clear, non-cola sodas, tonic water, and sparkling water.
Not-so-Subtle Sources of Staining
Now we get into the more obvious culprits:
- Fruits and berries: Blueberries, blackberries, and cherries, which are all popular in summertime fruit salads, pies, cobblers, and popsicles
- Condiments and toppings: Balsamic vinegar, ketchup, and mustard, often enjoyed at cookouts and parties
- Drinks: Iced tea, soda, and juices or smoothies made with dark fruits and berries
Tips for Keeping Your Smile Bright
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to avoid or treat discoloration caused by your diet. Our Sudbury dentist office provides professional teeth whitening to erase tell-tale stains, allowing you to brighten your smile by several shades.
Dr. Spada can help you decide between in-office Zoom! whitening, a take-home whitening kit, or an alternative to teeth whitening. You can also use a straw when drinking stain-causing beverages, as this minimizes contact with the surfaces of your teeth.
Afterward, brush your teeth or at least rinse your mouth with plain water. If you’ve just enjoyed an acidic food or beverage, wait 30 minutes before using a toothbrush; rinse immediately, instead.