These are the foods you should avoid for whiter teeth

According to Google trends, searches for ‘natural teeth whitening’ have increased 180% in the past 90 days, and teeth whitening is buzzing on social media. On TikTok, for example, #teethwhitening videos have been viewed more than 1 billion times, and on Instagram, there are currently 2.7 million posts with the same hashtag.

However, many of our favourite summer foods can harm our teeth-whitening efforts, causing them to appear yellow and damaging them internally.

Kent Express, the UK’s leading dental supplier, has spoken with Ellie Busby, Registered Nutritionist at Vojo and Laura Baker-Fawcus RDN, Practice Manager at Forge House Dental to highlight the foods to avoid this summer and the best replacements if you want whiter teeth.

Which popular summer foods can make your teeth yellow?

  1. Citrus fruit

Citrus fruits are great for getting a dose of vitamin C and other antioxidants, but they could be causing damage to your teeth. The acid in fruits like grapefruit, lemon, orange and lime contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel, exposing the yellow surface below.

All fruits have their own benefits, depending on their colour,” Ellie Busby comments. “Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and are a good source of folate (vitamin B9). For vitamin C, there are other fruits you could eat though – especially strawberries, guavas and papayas. Alternative fruits which provide folate include mangos and avocados. Leafy green vegetables are also good sources – especially spinach and kale”.

  1. Tea and coffee

An estimated 100 million cups of tea are consumed in Britain every day, with 84% of the population drinking at least one cup. However, both contain tannins, which stain your teeth. There’s some good news for latte lovers though, because adding milk to your tea and coffee is thought to reduce this effect. Coffee generally has a lower tannin content than tea. However, it alters the pH of your mouth, making your teeth more vulnerable to other stains. Tannins aren’t only found in breakfast tea, but also in green tea and many herbal teas.

Ellie Busby suggests: “If you like a hot drink similar to tea, go for redbush tea which is naturally caffeine and tannin-free and won’t stain your teeth.”

To reduce discolouration, the best solution is to cut down on tea and coffee. You can also help your teeth remain whiter by finishing your cup in fewer, larger mouthfuls. Afterwards, wait 30 minutes and then brush your teeth, as this can prevent the stains from setting in.

  1. Beetroot

We all know that beetroot stains hands and clothes so it’s no surprise that this vibrantly coloured vegetable also affects your teeth. While fresh beetroot offers many health benefits, it can harm the appearance of your teeth. Pickled beetroot has an even greater impact because the highly acidic vinegar can erode the surface of your teeth, making them more vulnerable to the beetroot stains. Ellie suggests swapping beetroot for other root vegetables such as sweet potato or carrots. If you eat beetroot this summer, try to brush your teeth between 30 and 60 minutes afterwards.

  1. Dark fizzy drinks

Fizzy drinks often contain citric acid, which can damage tooth enamel. The extremely high volume of sugar in classic fizzy drinks is also a threat to your teeth as it weakens them and contributes to decay. However, despite not containing sugar, even diet fizzy drinks still include acids and artificial colouring which cause tooth discolouration.

Dark-coloured fizzy drinks are particularly bad. Drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi contain ingredients to give them their dark colours, but they also have the same effect on your teeth. Drinking it with a straw might reduce the impact, but won’t completely prevent staining.

  1. Salad dressing

Vinegars such as balsamic and apple cider vinegar are ingredients in many common summer salad dressings. However, acidic vinegar doesn’t just make dressings taste tangy, it can also erode enamel and make your teeth vulnerable to staining. Many shop-bought dressings are also high in sugar.

Mixing some herbs and spices into olive oil, or using mashed avocado as a base for a dressing, can be a great alternative and won’t turn your teeth yellow.

  1. Ice lollies

Ice lollies usually contain sugar and artificial colouring, which can be bad news for your teeth. Sugar causes tooth decay, a key cause of yellow teeth, and some of our favourite lollies are serious offenders. A Nestlé Nobbly Bobbly contains 20.3g of sugar, more than five teaspoons. And an R White’s Lemonade Lolly contains 15.5g, or four teaspoons, so try to opt for low-sugar alternatives. Ellie Busby recommends: “Try to pick lollies made from natural juice or frozen yoghurt instead.”

  1. Curries

Britain loves curry. However, our favourite curry dishes often contain curcumin, which has a naturally bright yellow colour and causes staining. Many of us know how badly curry can stain tablecloths and clothes, and it does the same to teeth. That’s why Ellie recommends using other spices in curry powder, such as chili, cinnamon and cardamom. Additionally, try to brush your teeth shortly after your meal to reduce how much of the yellow chemical sinks into your teeth.

How can you keep your teeth healthy and protected from foods which stain your teeth?

Laura Baker-Fawcus RDN, Practice Manager, Forge House Dental explains how to keep your teeth from appearing dull over time and stain-free:

“Brushing with an electric toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste which contains teeth whitening properties regularly, accompanied with interdental cleaning daily will help to prevent teeth stains.

Eating anything sugary or acidic as part of a meal and not snacking in between meals, can cause the teeth to have to endure more acid attacks. For example, if you are going to have a pudding or fruit, make it straight after the meal as this will mean one acid attack per meal. This helps the teeth to recover between meals”.

Tips to keep your teeth looking their best during summer

Chris Moffatt, Senior Marketing Manager at Kent Express, the UK’s leading dental supplier shares his top tips on keeping your teeth strong and healthy during the summer months:

“During lockdown many people let their usual routines slide, but to keep your teeth healthy it’s vital to maintain a regular routine.

  • Stay hydrated – drinking water helps your body in so many ways, but it’s great for teeth. Saliva helps to wash away oral bacteria and food particles, which helps to prevent plaque building up

  • Avoid fizzy drinks – they often contain a lot of sugar, and the acid in carbonated drinks can wear down enamel. Using a straw can help to reduce the impact of fizzy drinks on your teeth

  • Say no to sugary snacks – Ice creams are incredibly tempting on a hot Summer day, but sugary snacks can cause plaque build up and harm your teeth. If you do choose to indulge, it’s best to have a sugary snack after a meal, then use sugar-free chewing gum and drink water afterwards

  • Brush on the go – Travel-sized toothbrushes and toothpaste can easily fit in your gym bag or handbag, and can help you keep your teeth shining while you’re on the go

The safest option for tooth whitening is through a dental professional. Dentists, hygienists and dental therapists have to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). That way you know that the treatment is properly regulated, and the results will be genuine. They will assess the health of your teeth, gums and mouth and be able to suggest the best treatment options for you. DIY home teeth whitening kits bought off the internet should be avoided at all costs: they can be temptingly cheap, but often don’t work, and potentially could cause you harm”.