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Although movies, advertisements and magazine ads are all full of blindingly white, flashing smiles, let’s not lose our grip on reality. Our teeth are light bone coloured naturally, and are not bleach white! What colour and quality of tooth material you have depended on many factors. Many traits are inherited, but that does not mean we can’t do more to preserve our teeth in their natural state.

What causes tooth discolourations?

Discolourations can be the result of lifestyle choices like smoking, plaque accumulation, and just plain old age as well, but the structure and the colouration of your tooth enamel are greatly affected by the kinds of food and drinks you consume. This is partially due to the colouring agents in the foods, and partially due to the different kinds of carbohydrates that are the enemies of our tooth enamel, as they are easily digested by bacteria to form acidic by products. These acids then corrode the tooth enamel, thus contributing to the discolouration of the tooth surfaces.

What food or drinks should we avoid?

Below is a list of which plaque and colourful foods and drinks to avoid.

1)     Wine

Red wine has many active chromogenic ingredients (agents that can produce discolourations), and tannins that are well-known plaque producers. White wine is usually much more acidic than red wine, so if you eat anything colourful after drinking white wine (for example, red fruits), than you risk colouring your weakened enamel.

3)      Coffee

Coffee is a well-known colouring agent and contributes greatly to the stains that you see on most peoples tooth enamel.

4)      Tea

Of all the teas available, black tea is the most likely to discolour your tooth enamel, because-just like wine- it is rich in tannins, which produce a ton of plaque. If you drink herbal tea or green or white tea, you will have a lot fewer stains to deal with.

5)      Cola

Both highly acidic, packed with sugar and rich in chromogenic agents, this drink is hazardous to your teeth.

6)      Orange juice

This drink is highly acidic and can be a source of discolourations if drunk in tandem with dark coloured drinks, for instance, coffee, with your breakfast. If you do not rinse your mouth out after drinking orange juice for hours, the acidic contents stay in the mouth and soften the tooth surfaces, making the teeth susceptible not only to discolouration but also to tooth decay as well. You can de-acidify your orange juice by diluting it with a bit of water, or by adding a sprinkle of sodium bicarbonate.

7)      Energy drinks

Acidic sports drinks and energy drinks can really do a number on your tooth enamel, preparing the way for colouring agents to stain your teeth.

8)      Berries and red fruits

Berries that have a strong colour, like cherries, currant, blueberries and the juices and pulp that is made from them can also contribute to the discolouration of your teeth.

9)      Sauces

Tomato sauce, curry, and other bright coloured sauces have a tendency to increase plaque production, thus contributing slightly to discolouration.

10)  Sweets

Eating hard candy, chewing gum, popsicles and other sweets on a regular basis is not recommended because they can contain many agents that stain the teeth.

Perhaps this list, with all of these foods and potential dangers to our teeth listed clearly seems a bit scary at first, especially if one or more of these foods is a regular staple of our diet. But do not be alarmed- the key to everything in moderation, and proper at home oral hygiene can do wonders, too!

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