Everyone wants to flash their pearly whites, and there is thus concern about the effects of tea on the teeth. Most colored drinks and foods tend to stain the teeth.
When consuming these now and then, that should not be a problem. But what happens if you consume them daily? Should you have a cause to worry? Many regular tea drinkers have had this concern for a while.
So, does tea stain your teeth? The answer is yes. Tea, whether black or oolong or green, will stain your teeth over time. More so when consumed plain and without a straw. It owes to the presence of tannic acid, which encourages plaque and causes the yellowing of the teeth. The best way to deal with discolored teeth is to consult the dentist and get professional teeth whitening.
Types of tooth stains
Tooth stains come in two types: intrinsic and extrinsic. In the case of intrinsic stains, these take place inside the tooth but can show on the outside. They can be a result of nutritional deficiencies, trauma to the tooth, cavities, infections, and other dental problems.
Dealing with these often requires that you consult a dentist. Most tooth whitening products do not do much to help with the situation.
Extrinsic stains, on the other hand, occur on the outer surface of the teeth. Note that when we talk of tea stains, we refer to discoloration on the teeth’s outer part.
This change in color often owes to exposure to colored foods over a long time. It could be tea, coffee, wine, or any other substances. In some cases, though, the stains owe to the accumulation of dental plaque or bacterial growth.
Seeking help from your dentist can help you in identifying the cause of the discoloration.
How does tea stain your teeth?
Unfortunately for tea drinkers, your beloved drink could be robbing you of a white smile. It gets even worse. Studies show that tea can have more of a discoloring effect than coffee.
Yes, things are that bad. It may be hard to understand how this hot drink can be damaging to your teeth. Well, it all comes down to the compounds present in the beverage.
Your teeth comprise many parts, one of them being the enamel, which is porous. It contains tiny ridges that absorb components from the substances with which it comes into contact. In the case of tea, these are the tannins which slowly give you a brownish yellowish hue.
Tannins are the organic compounds present in drinks such as tea, which give off a bitter taste. They also contribute to that lovely color you gaze at as you have your drink. Now, these are not the enemy, but rather, tannic acid is.
These are another kind of tannins that are present in some teas – these are responsible for the yellowing of the teeth. They do so by creating plaque on the teeth.
Tea does not stop at tannins as it also comprises other compounds such as theabrownins and theaflavins. These also stain the teeth. The stronger your brew is, the more exposure you will have to these compounds, and the more the staining will be.
Even with this effect, tea is still good for your health as it has many benefits for your system.
How do you prevent tea from staining your teeth?
There are two ways you can prevent the staining of your teeth. On the one hand, you can do away with consuming tea in entirety. That would mean cutting off other staining drinks such as coffee as well. You may find that this solution does not work for you.
On the other hand, you can have some tips to help you prevent the occurrence of tea stains. That way, you get to enjoy the health benefits that come with consuming tea. And you do not stain your teeth in the process.
Using a Straw
Teeth get stained when they come into contact with discoloring drinks. Thus, the way to prevent this is to avoid any contact between the tea and your teeth.
The same goes for any dark drink you consume. Otherwise, you will prevent staining by tea only to have wine ruin your smile.
You can use a straw for both hot or cold teas, ensuring that you direct the drink to the back of your mouth. Swallowing immediately is of the essence.
It may be tempting to swish the drink around and give your taste buds a feel, but this is not advisable. You would end up giving your teeth exposure to the drink, much like you would when not using a straw.
Rinsing with water
Even with using a straw, some tea will end up in your mouth. You thus need to get rid of the drink by rinsing your mouth using plain water. Some people advise brushing after drinking tea, but this may not always be applicable.
It comes down to the acidic level of the tea you have consumed. If you take your tea black, it will be slightly acidic. And brushing soon after eating would damage your already weakened enamel.
In fact, brushing should only take place half an hour after eating, as this allows saliva production and teeth protection. Start with a plain water rinse, wait half an hour, then brush your teeth, with or without toothpaste.
Drinking your tea plain allows you to reduce the number of calories you consume. However, it has the downside of having a more discoloring effect than when you use creamer.
Natural creamers such as milk contain a protein called casein. This component binds to the tannins in the tea and reduces their effect. Also, you will note that tea lightens in color when you use creamer.
It makes it much harder for the drink to stain your teeth. When working with creamer, work on matching the tannin levels to the casein levels. That aids a lot in ensuring effectiveness.
This tip might seem off, but it works. Oranges are acidic, and this acidity works in neutralizing the harmful acids in your mouth. You thus prevent the decay and staining of your teeth. That’s a good case of fighting fire with fire and coming out on top.
Consuming Fibrous Foods
Tea stains tend to stick to the teeth but can come off when subjected to abrasion. On this note, how about you munch on some fibrous foods such as seeds, roots, and nuts?
These work in removing the tea stains before they have had the chance to set. You can add such foods to your diet on days when you have had a cup of tea.
When you have a lot of saliva in your mouth, it washes away bacteria that can lead to stains and decay. Thus, you should work on increasing saliva production by eating foods such as apples.
Additionally, you can also chew gum, so long as it is free of sugar. It will also aid in the production of saliva, thus protecting your teeth.
How can you whiten teeth stained by tea?
Prevention is always the best way to approach a problem. However, it is not always possible, and you may find that there is damage to your teeth. The best thing would be to consult a dentist who can work on removing the stains.
They may even find that the stains are intrinsic and not on the surface as you think. Also, consulting a dentist ensures that your teeth do not get damaged even more. That should be your first choice as it is the safest option.
You can also work on using home remedies. Note that dentists often discourage their patients from using such means as they can be too abrasive on the teeth. Thus, before adopting any of these techniques, talk to your dentist.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
This antibacterial agent can clean your whole mouth and gums in one wash, and many people often use it as a mouthwash. You will need equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water for the rinse to be effective.
Use this in your mouth and swish the mixture around for one timed minute. Proceed to thoroughly rinse your mouth before inspecting the results.
You can also use baking soda by mixing this with water and brushing with it. This paste can remove plaque from the teeth to a given extent.
Make it runny such that it does not feel too abrasive on the teeth and keep brushing for fifteen seconds. After this, rinse it out thoroughly using water.
Now, here is a tooth cleaning method you will enjoy. Start by mashing strawberries and making a paste of some sort. You can use four to five berries for this.
Use the mixture on your teeth for a minute or so and proceed with rinsing. You can add baking soda to the mix to make it even more effective and leave the mixture on your teeth for five minutes.
Note that this mix is high in sugar, and you will require to brush your teeth afterward.
Activated charcoal pulls out stains, bacteria, and toxins from your teeth. You can use it once daily for five days in a row if your teeth have heavy and dark stains.
Alternatively, you can do this for three days, brushing for about five minutes.
Homemade remedies may not be the best option as they do not feature any strict regulations. Some of them can even be harmful to the teeth if used more than needed.
If you have such concerns, you can get a whitening toothpaste. It takes time to see the results and can take up to six weeks.
These strips contain bleach, which whitens your teeth almost immediately. As long as you stick to the instructions, you should be fine. It helps that these are widely available and affordable. You can also invest in an electric toothbrush.
Unfortunately, tea can stain your teeth, more so when consumed when plain and without a straw. It owes to the presence of tannic acid, which encourages plaque and causes the yellowing of the teeth.
Some studies show that this beverage can have more of a staining effect compared to coffee. The best way to deal with discolored teeth is to consult the dentist and get professional teeth whitening.
Other means may be effective, but they can damage your teeth when misused. You can also quit consuming tea and other dark drinks, or follow the guidelines above. Here is to happy, healthy smiles!