Foods that Stain Teeth

To promote healthy teeth and gums, think before you eat and drink. Many foods, although nutritious and delicious, may be affecting your teeth in ways you have never thought of. Some of the effects include staining, sensitivity, decay and enamel breakdown. Try brushing and flossing immediately after eating these foods to minimize the effects. Here are a few things to consider when making food choices.

Citrus and Acidic Foods

If you notice a yellowish tint to your teeth, acidic foods like citrus fruits and tomatoes, might be to blame. Even though they are nutrient-packed, these colorful foods can erode the enamel, which might expose the yellow-hued dentin and the tissue beneath the enamel made up of mostly calcium and phosphate crystals. Dark pigmented and acidic sauces like soy sauce and balsamic vinegar can also cause stains on your teeth.


Coffee may be your favorite cure for tired mornings but this wonderfully tasting delight has tannins (acidic polyphenols) in it that lead to staining and discoloration. Plus, because it’s acidic, it alters the pH Just like coffee, tea also contains tannins, so sipping on a cup of chamomile may lead to stains. Green tea stains teeth gray, and black tea stains them yellow. If green tea is your go-to, invest in a high-quality option. The lower the quality, the worse the stain it will cause. And if you just can't live without drinking coffee or tea, consider adding a dash of milk to your cup. Research suggests that adding milk to your coffee or tea slashes its ability to stain your teeth.


The sugars in delicious treats like cookies and hard candy (and even snack foods like chips) latch onto your teeth and become the main meal for the bacteria in your mouth. When the bacteria feed off these sugars, they release acids that lead to tooth decay. This decay may present as dark spots and cause eroded black holes in your teeth.

Soda/Sports Drinks

Sugar-laden beverages act the same as sugar-laden snacks, giving the bacteria in your mouth plenty to feed on and thus releasing damaging acids. Sodas, regular and sugar free alike, are especially dangerous since anything carbonated is acidic. This lowers the pH balance in your mouth and can lead you to be more susceptible to decay. Energy or sports drinks are especially known for their enamel-eroding properties. To keep your enamel intact, please steer clear of these drinks.

Blueberries, Blackberries, and Pomegranates

While they may be chock-full of antioxidants, these richly pigmented berries have a serious stain game. Rule of thumb when it comes to these little superfoods: If it’s difficult to remove their stain from clothing, it’s going to be difficult removing it from teeth. Try swishing your mouth with water after
eating these foods to minimize the effects.

Red Wine

Parents and some of our oldest patients (21 & older) are not surprised that red wine can be responsible for teeth that have turned shades of gray which is a harder hue to remove than yellowish stains. The same pesky tannins that we see in tea and coffee are present in wine as well.

White Wine

Again, for our parents and oldest patients, sipping on white wine can also steal some of the white away from your smile. One study suggests that the lighter type of wine may make tooth stains darker. So, while it does not actually cause stains, its acid content creates little pockets on the surface of the tooth that allow other beverages to seep in deeper.


Tobacco products such as smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, vaping or chewing tobacco can cause stains on the teeth. Nicotine and tar in these products produce a yellow tint on the teeth. To maintain a bright and healthy smile please remember your daily oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing every day. This will help to minimize damaging effects of the food we eat. Please contact our friendly team today if you have questions or would like to schedule a visit with Brent J. Porter D.D.S., Santa Cruz Pediatric Dentist at (831) 459-9802, we look forward to hearing from you!