Limit Eating These Food for Whiter Teeth

5 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Whitening our teeth has never been easier thanks to home kits — but the easiest and cheapest way to take care of your teeth is to ensure you don’t stain them in the first place. Start a search today to learn about teeth whitening.

There are plenty of foods that you can eat that do minimal damage to teeth, but others will start to have an impact almost immediately. Here are some of the worst foods you may want to avoid or limit if you want whiter teeth.

Red wine

It shouldn’t surprise you that red wine is terrible for your teeth. After one or two glasses, most people experience superficial staining of the teeth, gums, and lips, and if continued, regular indulgence can really change the pigmentation of teeth long-term. Anything that is darkly colored, like red wine or other dark beverages, can alter the pigmentation of teeth, causing unsightly stains that build up over time to a discoloration that doesn’t go away with brushing.

Red wine also contains lots of tannins, an astringent compound which is present in many different foods, and contributes to the dry, rich flavor profile of red wine. These tannins also contribute to stained teeth. If you love wine but want to avoid stains, chew on a healthy snack like almonds while you drink — it’s thought that the abrasion from the almond pieces in your mouth helps to buff off stains before they set.


Unfortunately, even though eating berries is healthy, the dark colors of some berries (particularly blackberries, cranberries, and cherries) can be problematic for our teeth. The dark colors, combined with the fact that many berries contain tiny seeds that can easily get stuck between our teeth, makes berries a danger to the bright, white teeth that we strive for. Even berry juice and jam are problematic. If you enjoy eating berries on a regular basis, consider following up the berries with a glass of milk or a piece of cheese to help mitigate their staining effect and neutralize the acid in your mouth, then brushing your teeth to make sure that all the lingering pieces are gone.


It shouldn’t surprise you that coffee is one of the worst culprits for causing tooth dullness and discoloration. The dark hue contributes to an overall dulling of our formerly white teeth, and the acidity can lead to weakened enamel, which will only lead to further discoloration. You’re especially vulnerable to stained, discolored teeth if you regularly drink your coffee black. One thing you can do to mitigate this effect is to add a splash of milk or cream or drink your cup of joe through a straw. It may seem silly at first, but it ensures the liquid bypasses your teeth, helping them to stay bright white. It’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth and brush your teeth after you drink your morning cup of coffee, just to make sure any lingering stains don’t get the chance to set.


It isn’t just darkly pigmented foods that can cause teeth to stain over time — any intensely hued food can affect the overall color of our teeth. Curry is one of the worst culprits for dull, yellowish teeth — the deep pigmentation of the curry powder can lead to discolored teeth if you enjoy curry dishes on a regular basis. If you love curry, you can still eat it, but ensure that you follow it up with a raw food known for preventing stains, like apple slices, celery, or cauliflower. This will ensure that the stains don’t get a chance to set before you have a chance to brush your teeth.

Pasta sauce

If you’ve ever struggled to get stains from pasta sauce off a white countertop or towel, imagine what that same sauce can do to your teeth. Anything that can stain fabric can stain your teeth. Pasta sauce is particularly damaging to healthy, white teeth because it’s darkly pigmented, and its primary ingredient—tomatoes—are also very acidic, which can damage our enamel, leaving us more vulnerable to stains. Thin tomato skins can also creep into the spaces between our teeth, leaving us vulnerable to bacteria. If you want to eat pasta sauce, try pairing it with a salad with lots of dark green veggies, which can help create a protective barrier over our teeth which will prevent stains.

Hard candies

If you want to have beautiful, strong, white teeth into old age, one of the best things that you can do to prevent damage is to curtail your sugar habit. One of the worst things that you can eat that will do irrevocable damage to healthy teeth is hard candy. Crunching on hard candy like lollipops, as well as sugary gummy candy, is dangerous because the shards of sticky sugar can easily get stuck on and between our teeth, quickly becoming a breeding ground for bacteria which can lead to cavities. Many of these candies are also very acidic — the puckery, sour taste is delicious, but the acid can lead to a breakdown of the tooth enamel that helps to prevent discoloration and damage. If you have a sweet tooth, try to replace the hard candies you enjoy with something like a square of sugar-free chocolate.

Dark sauces

Other darkly-pigmented food items that we should be minimizing to help improve the look and brightness of our teeth are dark sauces like soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. In addition to being extremely dark in color, the high sugar content means that they can cling to teeth for hours afterward, leaving us with spots that could become vulnerable to bacteria growth. Fortunately, we don’t eat these foods on their own most of the time. If you’re concerned about staining, be sure to include fresh, crunchy veggies like lettuce or cabbage in the dish, which will help clean the stains from your teeth.


Another sugary food that’s terrible for our teeth is soda. Even if you reach for sugar-free diet soda, it still contains lots of acid that can lead to a breakdown of enamel. Many sodas are also darkly colored, which only contributes to deeper staining. If you can’t manage to kick your soda habit completely, try using a straw to help the liquid bypass your teeth, and ensure that you brush well or at least rinse your mouth out after you’ve finished the drink. You can also try replacing soda with bubbly water, if you’re looking for something to perk you up. If you go this route, look for carbonated water without any added sugar.


One of the aspects of citrus that is so appealing is the acidic, refreshing taste of a good orange or grapefruit. Eating citrus fruit, or drinking citrus-infused beverages like orange juice or lemonade can be refreshing and taste delicious, but the truth is, the high amounts of acid that these fruits contain is very damaging to the enamel of our teeth. It’s especially important to avoid eating these highly acidic foods within 30 minutes of brushing our teeth, to allow our bodies to replenish the biofilm that’s naturally present on the surface of our teeth. If you eat a lot of citrus at once, try to ensure that you rinse your mouth or brush your teeth afterwards, to help dispel any acid from lingering and causing damage to our enamel.


It should come as no surprise that beets, which stain almost everything they touch- including your fingertips — are very damaging to the whiteness of our teeth. If you enjoy eating beets on a regular basis, make sure to brush your teeth thoroughly afterwards, to mitigate the discoloration. You can also try and pair your beets with foods that help with discoloration, like cheese, or crunchy vegetables.

Jordana Weiss