We all want brilliantly white teeth and a dazzling smile, but there are tons of culprits—not just coffee or wine, either—that can cause unwanted surface stains. Medication, foods, and even sauces can have a negative effect. If you'd like your pearliest-possible whites on display, keep reading for some truly surprising reasons your teeth aren’t as white as they could be.
With cold and flu season in full swing, this is a really good one to know: Cough syrup can cause teeth discoloration. Because you're more prone to take it at night, the dark-colored syrup has a chance to sit on the surface of your teeth all night long, causing stains.
Not only that, but many cough syrups contain alcohol (not to mention sugar), which dries our mouths, resulting in less saliva. Saliva helps to dilute and wash down the substances that stain our teeth, so a shortage of it can lead to stains.
This is because darker berries contain compounds called chromogens, which are pigment-producing substances that readily stick to tooth enamel. When indulging in fruit pies (apple doesn’t count), be sure to wash those delicious bites down with water.
Your favorite tomato sauce may be delicious, but it’s also another high-chromogen food and, therefore, a tooth-staining one. Swish water around in your mouth in between bites to prevent the sauce from sticking to the surface of your teeth.
Sport and energy drinks can quickly erode tooth enamel, which results in a higher susceptibility to stains. Because of the sugar and acid content of these drinks, you’re better off hydrating with water or coconut water than a crazy-colored sports drink—for both your health and your teeth.
The combination of high contents of acid and lemon in lemonade does a number on our teeth. Acid wears down the enamel layer, and when enamel is worn down, it exposes the underlying dentin layer of teeth, which can become yellow and dark in color. To avoid decay, always try to sip highly acidic beverages through a straw, to minimize direct contact with teeth.
You know how sucking on hard candy turns your tongue a different color? The pigment from the candy does the same thing to your teeth. If you're addicted to lollipops, try switching to sugarless gum instead.
Antihistamines like Benadryl are another unexpected cause of tooth discoloration. However, the extent varies by dosage and duration of the treatment.
Do you have any DIY teeth-whitening remedies you swear by? Tell us in the comments!