When was the last time you saw a celebrity without a gleaming set of bright white teeth? Even when the chompers aren’t perfect, every grinning face on television and the big screen is outfitted with a smile the color of new-fallen snow. And with the advent of over-the-counter whitening products, regular folks have started to follow suit. In fact, in a recent poll by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, nearly all respondents said that they’d like to whiten and brighten their smiles.
Unfortunately for most of us, many of the foods and drinks we love are dimming our smiles. A cup of coffee in the morning, followed by a salad with oil and balsamic vinegar for lunch, and rounded out by a big glass of red wine at night can leave behind unsightly brown and yellowish hues on our teeth, causing us to lose our sparkle over time.
So should we give up our favorite foods and never leave the house without a protective bleach tray? Absolutely not, says Dr. Kourosh Maddahi, best-selling author of Anti-Aging Dentistry. A better solution is to counterbalance those stain-producing foods with a few diet and lifestyle changes. Experiment with other foods that act as natural stain removers and use a straw or lidded cup for darker drinks.
"Natural fibers found in many fruits and vegetables tend to whiten teeth by scrubbing stains from the top layer of tooth enamel,” Maddahi says. “You can also help naturally maintain a whiter smile by consuming items rich in color — like blueberry smoothies, green juices, coffees, and black teas — through a vented lid or a thick straw whenever possible. This will bring stain-causing foods past the front of the teeth, so you can still enjoy their benefits without the stains."
If you’re ready to come back from your lunch break with a smile that’s brighter than the one you left with, you’re in luck, because we’ve consulted with experts to compile a list of foods that make teeth sparkle.
Eat an apple for shiny, white teeth. Or better yet, crush it up and brush with it, says founder of Organic Healthy Lifestyle Nancy Addison. “Apples and strawberries contain malic acid and vitamin C,” Addison says. “The malic acid is like an astringent that helps remove surface stains, and the vitamin C helps remove plaque. You can brush with a little grated apple once in a while.”