While the ideal tooth is an unblemished white, most of us are willing to accept a somewhat off-white color as the cost of using our mouth to eat things. There are also various tooth-whitening products out there which do various things like eating away at the outermost layer of enamel, coating the teeth in a layer of white chemicals, or else applying a fluorescent dye that makes your teeth shine despite their color, but you can also keep your teeth white by avoiding certain things which might stain your teeth.
- Coffee, tea, red wine, and other dark foods and liquids. To put it briefly, if it can permanently stain your shirt, it can permanently stain your teeth.
- Acidic foods and liquids. A strong enough acid can damage your tooth enamel, providing more spaces for the staining molecules to lodge themselves. This means that colas are particularly good at staining teeth since they are both dark and highly acidic.
- Tobacco and other smoke. Tobacco is the most common reason that anyone has to inhale smoke through their mouths, but smoke of any sort can leave a residue behind on teeth which is hard to scrub away.
- Fluorosis. The mild version of fluorosis only causes white stains, and these stains usually only show up on young permanent teeth and disappear as a child grows older. If you live in an area with fluoridated water, mild fluorosis is the worst you should expect. However, if there’s a natural source of fluoride in the water and it’s not removed by any water treatment facility, then children who drink the water may end up with permanently brown and pitted teeth.
- Tetracycline antibiotics. This group of medicines has the unfortunate side effect of sometimes staining developing teeth a dark brown.
In addition, teeth can naturally grow a darker shade of yellow as you grow older. Tooth enamel gradually wears away as time goes on, and since it’s slightly transparent the dentin underneath will become easier to see. For its part, dentin starts out white but then gradually yellows over time no matter what you eat or drink.
Overall, it’s not that hard to whiten your teeth to a pleasing shade, but at the same time it does still take some of your time and effort. Avoiding dark foods and smoking won’t keep your teeth white forever, but at least it can spare you some extra time between whitening treatments.