Summer is synonymous with backyard barbecues and farmer’s markets, but some of the tastiest and healthiest summertime treats can leave your pearly whites looking dull and dingy.
Whether enjoyed by the handful or in a freshly baked pie, berries are high in disease-fighting antioxidants and rich in flavonoids, the nutrients that give them their rich colors and help to protect against heart disease, inflammation, and cancer. Along with all the good stuff, berries also contain chromogens, intensely pigmented compounds that stick to the teeth enamel, which can cause staining. “Berries are super healthy,” says New York-based Victoria Veytsman, DDS, “so don’t stop eating them.” She suggests rinsing your mouth with water right after eating them or brushing your teeth 30 minutes after eating to reduce the staining effect. Watch out for these other “healthy” habits that damage your teeth.
After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world and in 2016 Americans drank 84 billion servings of the beverage, opting for iced tea 80 percent of the time. Tea has many health benefits, ranging from reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer to helping with weight loss and slowing age-related memory decline. Tea also contains tannins, plant-based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to teeth. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your favorite summertime beverage altogether. To reduce the chance of staining, Mazen Natour, DMD, a New York-based prosthodontist, suggests using a straw. “Using a straw will shoot the tea through your mouth without having it hit your teeth,” he says. Make sure you know the easiest way to clean your teeth without brushing them.
While citrus is loaded with vitamin C, which can fight off colds and aid in fat burning, too much can affect your teeth. Excessive citrus fruit consumption or habits such as sucking on lemon, lime, or orange wedges and letting them touch your teeth can make your teeth more susceptible to staining, explains Dr. Natour. “Over time, the acidity from citrus fruit will erode the enamel, creating small perforations and creating an entry for more staining.” Check out these other 37 secrets your dentist isn’t telling you.
Red wine and its key ingredient resveratrol has been shown to help prevent damage to blood vessels, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, and prevent blood clots, but it also contains tannins, and allowing it to linger too long in your mouth can lead to stains on your teeth that are difficult to remove. Adding citrus to red wine to create sangria, a favorite summer cocktail, ups the staining potential. “Sangria is a double whammy for staining,” says Dr. Natour. “Drink it with a straw, but carefully.” Find out how to get a red wine stain off your teeth.