Which Foods Stain Your Teeth the Most?

Which Foods Stain Your Teeth the Most?

We all know that smoking can turn your teeth yellow, but you might not realize how much certain foods and drinks can also stain your teeth. If you’re not sure about the impact a certain food item can have, a good rule of thumb is that if it stains a white t-shirt or a tablecloth, it will also stain teeth.

There are two main factors that cause food and beverages to stain teeth. First is color. The pigment in certain colored food can attach itself to tooth enamel — as it would to the fibers in a t-shirt or tablecloth — causing it to discolor. The second factor is acidity. The acid in foods and drinks can break down enamel, making it easier for pigment to latch on to the teeth.

Following is a list of the worst food and beverage offenders when it comes to staining teeth, along with the factor that makes them so potentially harmful.


  • Balsamic vinegar (color, acidity)
  • Beets (color)
  • Berries (color, acidity)
  • Candy (color)
  • Curry (color)
  • Ketchup and tomato sauce (color, acidity)
  • Popsicles (color)
  • Soy sauce (color)


  • Coffee (color, acidity)
  • Colas (color, acidity)
  • Fruit juice (color, acidity)
  • Red wine (color)
  • Sports drinks (color)
  • Tea (color)

No one really expects you to cut all of these items out of your diet, of course, but there are some measures you can take to minimize the amount of discoloration they can cause to your teeth:

  • Use a straw when you drink. This funnels the beverage past your front teeth so they don’t touch the staining agents.
  • Swallow quickly. The longer you chew and hold food and drink in your mouth, the more contact the acidic and coloring ingredients make with your teeth.
  • Rinse with water. Rinse your mouth out with water after you finish eating or drinking potentially staining foods, or at least take frequent sips of water as you’re eating.
  • Chew sugarless gum after eating or drinking to remove bacteria that can break down enamel and make staining easier.

(Sources: WebMD, Fox News, Everyday Health)