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5 Foods/Drinks That Are Notorious for Tooth Discoloration

You brush your teeth twice a day, don't smoke, and floss diligently. So, what's the deal with your tooth discoloration?! It can be frustrating to feel like you’re doing everything right and still getting stains on your teeth, but the answer might be in your diet rather than your oral hygiene practices. Here are some of the most common causes of tooth discoloration.


It would be hard to write about stained teeth without talking about coffee! Probably the most prevalent type of dental stain, coffee stains appear on the teeth as a yellow discoloration. Tannins, a naturally occurring chemical found in many foods and beverages, causes coffee stains. These tannins have an astringent flavor that you might enjoy in your morning latte, but most of us could do without the stains they leave behind. Even a single cup of coffee each day can discolor your tooth enamel.


Unfortunately, ordering a chai latte or London Fog instead of coffee at Starbucks won’t do you much good when it comes to tooth discoloration. Teas also include tannins; in fact, black tea contains more tannins than coffee, making it more likely to cause tooth discoloration. Tannins can be found in herbal teas, too, but in smaller amounts than in black tea or coffee, so if you like a warm cup of something in the morning, herbal tea is your best bet.

Tomato Sauce

If you've ever stored leftover pasta sauce in a plastic container, you know that no amount of scrubbing will get rid of the orange tint it leaves. The same can be said for your teeth! Tomato sauce is acidic, which erodes the enamel on your teeth, and highly colored, which stains them. Tomato sauce can cause tooth discoloration when eaten often.


It's easy to see why red wine is responsible for so many stained teeth: it's high in tannins, acidic, and also highly pigmented. You might be surprised to learn, though, that white wine's acidity also wears down the enamel, making it easier for stains to penetrate.

Balsamic Vinegar

If you like to drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over your salads, you might be getting more than you bargained for. Balsamic vinegar's acid wears away dental enamel, and its dark color can produce stains. What's worse, because balsamic vinegar is sticky, it adheres to your teeth even after you've finished eating.

Simple Solutions to Fight Tooth Discoloration

Professional teeth whitening provides the most dramatic results in the shortest amount of time if your teeth are already discolored. You don't have to give up your favorite foods and drinks to prevent future stains, though. Here are some suggestions:

  • If you don't want to completely eliminate coffee or tea from your daily routine, at least cut down on the frequency and/or amount.
  • Brush your teeth after eating or drinking something that causes discoloration.
  • Are you unable to brush your teeth? After drinking tea, coffee, or red wine, swish some water around in your mouth to rinse your teeth instead.
  • Don’t savor your coffee or tea all morning long. It’s better to drink it in one sitting, then rinse.
  • Buy your beverage of choice iced and use a straw to drink it.

Learn More About Teeth Whitening

If you’d like to brighten your smile, contact us today at 212-877-7177 to learn more about teeth whitening and schedule an appointment with Dr. Stachel.