5 Surprising Ways You're Staining Your Teeth

by Sara Tardiff

There are a few golden rules when it comes to keeping your teeth as white as grandmother's pearls and knowing what foods and drinks stain your teeth: No smoking, no coffee, lots of flossing, and oh yeah — red wine doesn't exactly help (that one is kind of a bummer, am I right?). It doesn't sound like much fun, but who doesn't love a sparkling Orbit-girl-status smile? Even if you haven't kept to the cardinal rules and you do notice a little yellow here and there (it happens to everyone), there are still plenty of ways to restore your teeth. However, the best method of all when it comes to your oral health is prevention, of course. But what if you were staining and yellowing your teeth without even realizing it? It's easier than you think.

Did you know that one in four adults don't brush their teeth twice a day? Or that 25 percent have never used mouth wash in their life? I could scare you with dental facts all day (because I'm weirdly into oral health like that), but what this all really comes down to is laziness. If you're reading this, then maybe laziness isn't your issue, because honestly, if you didn't care so much about your dental hygiene, you probably wouldn't be interested in finding out what things are secretly yellowing your teeth. Or, hey, maybe you're just wondering why your smile isn't as bright as it could be; that's normal — but in any case, unnecessary stains and yellowing isn't ideal. So, here is for the overachievers and the white teeth dreamers: Read on to find a few surprise factors that might be staining that smile.

1. Drinking tea

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Everyone knows dark liquids like coffee and red wine are a huge no-go when maintaining super-white teeth, but believe it or not, tea might be even riskier when it comes to stains. Most teas have a very high level of tannin, which is notorious for tarnishing teeth, and is difficult to get rid of. Yes, this is very sad news, but instead of avoiding tea altogether, try your best to drink it in moderation, and always brush your teeth shortly after you finish a cup!

2. Certain medications

There are some medications that are notorious for yellowing your teeth. The most common are antihistamines, blood pressure medication, and antipsychotic drugs. Obviously your medication takes priority over a white smile, but talk to your doctor if you would like to consider an alternative!

3. Eating berries

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They may be tiny, but berries pack a serious your teeth enamel. These little guys contain enough color pigments to really stick to your teeth and leave a long-lasting coat that leads to discoloration. Although it's best to try and keep berries off the menu while working on your teeth whiteness, you might want to try less pigmented fruits, like pears or bananas, in the meantime.

4. Your city's water

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Blame the government! Just kidding, but if you do notice lots of odd spots on your teeth, it might be because of a high exposure to fluoride. Which is often added by the government to reduce tooth decay…so it is kind of their fault in a way. But at least it is good-intentioned! The best way to know if your city adds fluoride to the water is to check the CDC website. If they do, and it has become a problem for your dental health, consider investing in a water filter for your kitchen sink, or switching exclusively to spring water.

5. Some mouthwashes

Ever heard of chlorhexidine gluconate? Not sure why you would have, but apparently it's an ingredient in many mouth washes that is causing your teeth to stain. When you use certain kinds of mouth washes regularly, sometimes the chlorhexidine chemically reacts with food particles still caught in your teeth, and causes annoying brown stains. It's always best to ask your dentist, and if you have gingivitis it is important to use mouth wash to keep plaque levels down — but if you're worried about these kind of stains, try out a product that uses cetylpyridinium chloride instead of chlorhexidine, because it doesn't stain!

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