It can be embarrassing to look in the mirror and see less-than-white pearly whites smiling back at you. Sparkling white teeth can make you feel confident and self-assured, while yellowed teeth can leave you wanting to shyly hide your smile. There are many things that can cause your smile to look a little more creamy yellow than white, from genetics (some people just get lucky, you know?) to lifestyle behaviors — such as skipping a few too many brushings or flossings, smoking or chewing tobacco, or even eating certain foods. Many of the foods that commonly cause staining contain “little bits of acid called tannins,” Monicah Johnson, the head dental hygienist at Chicago’s Downtown Dental, tells us. Those tannins cling to teeth and can yellow your teeth over time, especially if you eat or drink these foods regularly or indulge in excess.
While rinsing those acids off of your teeth soon after eating or drinking an offending food product can help keep some of the worst of the potential staining at bay, continuing to include those items in your diet will likely eventually cause your teeth to stain. Eliminating them entirely is the only surefire way to prevent stains. That’s the bad news. Maybe even worse? Teeth that have a yellow, brown or otherwise off-color hue can make you look much older than you are. Not great. But knowing which foods may be dulling your smile — and how you can keep those embarrassing stains to a minimum — is the key to keeping your teeth (and smile) beautiful.