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Top Ten Foods that Stain Teeth

Other Diseases By Tilottama Chatterjee , Onlymyhealth editorial team / May 25, 2011
Top Ten Foods that Stain Teeth

Foods that we eat largely contribute to staining of teeth.

Stained teeth are a cause for embarrassment. Persons with stained teeth attempt to keep their mouths closed while eating, talking and avoid smiling. Doctors suggest that use of some antibiotics during childhood may manifest itself as teeth discolouration in adult life. Medical procedures such as root canals can also play a role in tooth discolouration, as does a genetic tendency. Tooth discolouration is a symptom of tooth decay.

One of the leading causes of teeth dicolouration or staining is the food that we eat. The top ten foods that stain teeth are enumerated below:


  1. Tea
  2. Coffee, another teeth stainer
  3. In the matter of teeth staining, tea is worse than coffee
  4. Colas are especially to be avoided in the matter of teeth staining. The acid in colas weakens tooth enamel. Colas are rich in chromogens and should be avoided as much as possible.
  5. Sports drinks weaken enamel, which makes the teeth more susceptible to staining.
  6. Berries though rich in antioxidants but also are large stores of chromogens that stain teeth.
  7. Sauces such as soy, tomato sauce and curries have added colour that lead to teeth staining.
  8. Popsicles, lollipops and slushies that colour the tongue can be another reason for teeth staining.
  9. Acidic foods of all kinds that weaken tooth enamel, makes a person susceptible to tooth staining.
  10. Beets have a strong inherent colour and while handling leaves stains on fingers, the juice stains counters and eating it can lead to staining of teeth.


Closer home in India is the ubiquitous paan,a top teeth stainer.  Paan is betel leaf that tastes fresh and peppery. When the leaf is chewed, it tastes of pepsin, which aids in digestion. The leaf has many things put inside to make a proper paan, like ‘chuna’ or lime paste, ‘katha’ or catechu and ‘supari’ or areca nut. ‘Katha’ is derived the wood of the acacia catechu tree, which is known to be an astringent and disinfectant. It is Katha that causes the redness in the mouth when chewing paan and causes the chewer to spit out the stuff. The areca nut reacts with the lime paste to produce a narcotic called arecoline that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which results in increased production of saliva which necessitates the spitting out of the saliva. Paan chewers characteristically have red tongues and stained teeth.

In conclusion, discolouration of teeth has many causes, chief of which can be attributed the foods that we eat. This article has described the top ten foods that cause teeth stains including wines both red and white. The list includes Tea, coffee, and colas that are acidic and weaken teeth enamel. The list also includes Sports drinks and berries that are high in antioxidants but high in chromogens that stain teeth. We continue to other categories like sauces – soy, tomato and so on. Popsicles, lollipops and slushies that colour the tongue are also tooth stainer. In general, all acidic foods that attack teeth enamel also leads to teeth staining.

In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and many countries in South East Asia, have people that are in the habit of chewing paan that is betel leaf and areca nut along with lime paste and katha an extract of the catechu tree. It is katha that cause people to have red tongues and stained teeth.


Read more articles on Tooth Discoloration Causes and Risks.




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