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What Foods Can Stain and Discolor Teeth

Updated on November 2, 2015

Rule to Remember

There's a simple way to know what foods dull your smile. Foods that can stain your clothes or your carpets can also stain your teeth.

You probably love to start your day with a cup of tea or coffee. But this morning ritual can impact your smile. It's common knowledge that beverages like tea, coffee and cola can discolor teeth. But a lot of foods and drinks can actually cause your teeth to turn yellow. Many of these foods are good for you, so cutting them out completely may not be a good idea. There are a few simple things you can do to lessen the discoloring of your teeth.

After you drink tea, coffee or cola swish water around in your mouth to remove some of the staining substances. Even better, brush your teeth immediately afterward, if possible. Carry travel size toothpaste and a toothbrush with you. Keep a toothbrush and tube of toothpaste in your desk at work. Drink colas through a straw. This reduces contact with the front teeth.

The color in these foods and beverages comes from chromogens, intensely pigmented molecules with an unfortunate penchant for latching on to dental enamel.

List of Foods That Discolor Teeth

This is a list of the foods that can stain your teeth. Remember if food can stain your clothes or your carpet they'll also stain your teeth.

  • Tea - black tea contains the most stain causing substances. Add cream or milk to decrease the staining effect
  • Coffee - add cream or milk to decrease the staining effect
  • Wine - red and white
  • Colas - clear sodas like Mountain Dew, Sprite and 7 Up don't stain
  • Berries and berry juices including blueberries, cherries, cranberries and grapes
  • Sauces, like soy sauce and tomato sauce
  • Treats, like hard candies, that color your tongue will also stain your teeth
  • Curry - if you love Indian food beware. Curry can turn your teeth yellow
  • Balsamic Vinegar

  • Sports drinks
  • Popsicles and slushies
  • Beets

Foods that Help Whiten Teeth

While many foods will stain teeth, there are a few that can help whiten them. Apples, pears, carrots, lettuce and celery create lots of saliva. Saliva helps wash away food debris on teeth. Sugarless gum also creates a lot of saliva.

Tooth Whitening

If you teeth have deep stains, your dentist or tooth-whitening kits will be the best option for whitening. Tooth-whitening kits contain a bleach that can remove deep stains and lighten tooth color. Tooth-whitening strips, whitening toothpastes and whitening rinses are good for superficial stains.

Professional tooth whitening available at dentists' offices cost approximately $200 to $400. Tooth whitening is considered to be safe but the bleaching process can make your teeth extra absorbent. It's best to avoid staining foods immediately after whitening.

List of Foods that Stain Your Teeth


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    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 5 years ago


      I was surprised about those too. And berries as well.

    • greeneryday profile image

      greeneryday 5 years ago from Some tropical country

      Interesting, I know coffee and tea can change the color of your teeth, but curry. tomato, and sou sauce? I have never heard before. Thank you for writing this hub, voted up for interesting

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 5 years ago


      I've heard that baking soda is good for tooth whitening but never about the strawberries. That's very interesting.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      Hi Joan

      I drink lots of tea. I try to make a conscious effort to rinse my mouth with water after drinking tea.

      I never tried it but I have read that strawberries mashed up with a little baking soda is good for teeth whitening.

      Voted up and interesting.

      Take care :)

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 5 years ago


      I always carry a travel toothbrush with me. And when I can't brush, I drink some water afterwards to rinse my teeth. I also use a whitening rinse twice a day, which helps a lot.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I feel like maybe I should carry a toothbrush with me. ...or stop these foods. I know a straw is good, but coffee...Thanks for sharing all these teeth staining foods.

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 5 years ago

      Thanks Bobbi. I recall reading something that really cold drinks aren't good for teeth either, so iced coffee may not be a good option either.

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida

      Hi Joan,

      Very useful hub in making people aware of the drinks and food that will make ones teeth yellow. I always drink through a straw with all drinks even juices because of the acid.

      I do not use a straw with my hot coffee however, but I should drink ice coffee--maybe or not.

      Thanks again,

      Your Hub Friend,

      Bobbi Purvis

    • JoanCA profile image

      JoanCA 5 years ago

      I always have a glass of water right next to my tea. It helps a lot.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 5 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I drink a lot of tea and have lately been reminding myself to rinse my mouth with plain water after finishing the tea. Tea really stains tooth enamel if you don't do this. Good advice.