Foods and Beverages That Will Stain Your Teeth

The saying goes, if something stains a tablecloth, it will also stain your teeth. Yet, some foods like fruits and vegetables, for example, can stain your teeth but spare your tablecloth.

The following list isn’t a suggestion to avoid these foods, especially healthy fruits and vegetables. It’s about learning what things can discolor your teeth so you can take the right precautions.

To minimize the effects of food-stained teeth, rinse with an anti-cavity mouthwash designed to protect against tooth decay and brighten teeth. This, combined with twice-daily toothbrushing using fluoride-enriched toothpaste, can help reduce teeth discoloration.

Coffee, Tea and Cola

The lower the pH level is of a beverage, the higher its acidity and the more likely it is to stain your teeth. Water is neutral, with a pH of 7. On the other hand, brown colas have pH levels between 2 and 3, which makes them highly acidic teeth-staining beverages. Black coffee is a bit better than brown cola, with a pH of 5, but tea, particularly black tea, is around 3. So, if you brush your teeth before you drink coffee or tea in the morning, swap the way you do things — drink your coffee/tea first then brush your teeth.

Red and Even White Wine

It should not surprise you to hear red wine stains teeth. Red wine is highly acidic and contains tannins, which help the pigments in the wine bind to your teeth. People who have more porous teeth, from weakened enamel get “wine teeth” after drinking a single glass of red wine. As people age, their enamel weakens, so the older we get the more likely we are to get those “wine smiles.”

You might think that you can merely switch from red to white wine to prevent teeth stains; that assumption would be 100% incorrect. All wine is highly acidic, which means that drinking wine, regardless of color, erodes your tooth enamel. And eroded tooth enamel stains easier than healthy tooth enamel. Some experts suggest you brush your teeth after drinking wine, particularly if you use a fortified toothpaste with ingredients that protect tooth enamel.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits that contain citric acid are great for your body but not so good for the health of your teeth. Citric acid can “eat away” at tooth enamel. Does this mean that a squeeze of lemon will make your teeth vulnerable to cavities? No. However, prolonged exposure to acidic fruits and vegetables weakens the enamel. A simple way to reduce the breakdown of enamel is to brush your teeth within 20 to 30 minutes of eating. If you can’t brush your teeth right away, swish your mouth with an anti-cavity mouthwash or water.

Experts recommend drinking fruit juices such as orange juice and natural lemonade through a straw, to bypass your teeth. Lemon juice has a pH level of 2 making it very acidic.

These fruits have citric acid, which can eat away tool enamel:

●    Berries

●    Grapefruit

●    Lemons

●    Limes

●    Oranges

It might surprise you to learn that although some fruits and vegetables won’t stain your table linens, they can still discolor your teeth. Apples and potatoes are two little known teeth stainers. Chemicals in these foods that cause them to darken after they’ve ripened can also darken your teeth. Again, brushing and rinsing your teeth after eating is a great way to prevent stains.


Many homemade mouthwash recipes and other home remedies suggest using vinegar as a natural teeth whitener. The problem is, there is no scientific evidence supporting the notion that vinegar, more specifically apple cider vinegar, whitens teeth. In fact, if you use too much vinegar it can make your teeth more susceptible to stains due to its highly acidic pH level of between 2 and 3. Cider vinegar is more acidic than white vinegar.

It’s okay if you eat salads dressed with vinegar and oil, just be sure to brush your teeth or rinse afterward.

Tomato-Based Sauces and Curries

Remember about foods staining tablecloths? If a sauce — tomato-based pasta sauce, curries, and even some soy-based sauces (think Asian foods) — can stain your linens, it will stain your teeth. Some tomato sauces and juices have pH levels that range from 3.5 to 4.9, which means they are acidic. The advice here is not necessarily to avoid these delicious foods but to brush or rinse after meals.

The American Dental Association tested over 350 popular beverages, including sports drinks, and found many had pH levels around 2.75calling them “extremely erosive”. Drink these beverages in moderation, and don’t forget to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after consuming them.  

Defend Against Enamel Erosion

Brushing and rinsing after eating isn’t just about removing food particles, sugar, and germs from your teeth, it’s also about removing substances that can weaken your tooth enamel. Some oral care products strengthen and remineralize your teeth, which is another way to protect your teeth against things that erode the enamel. 

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