If you are currently using a teeth whitening product, or just recently had your teeth professionally whitened, you’ll want to be aware of these foods that are known to discolor teeth…

1. Coffee – is the biggest culprit and the most common. The darker the roast, the worse. The biggest failure with people and their coffee is that they brush their teeth first, then run out to Kaladi Brothers or Dark Horse for a tall cup of roast. Teeth are porous; they have microscopic holes in them, and dark staining liquids can pass through the enamel and discolor your teeth from the inside out.

2. Tea – that is, real tea (made from Camellia sinensis, black tea, green tea, chai), contains tannins that are well-known to stain teeth. Just like coffee, they get through those microscopic pores and yellow your teeth from the inside out. If you must have real tea, opt for “white tea” the most lightest colored tea.

3. Soda – particularly the dark colored sodas, have a double whammy of teeth discoloration. Not only does the artificial coloring stain your teeth, sodas also contain acids that eat away at tooth enamel and make them more susceptible to yellowing and browning. Clear sodas may not have the discoloration, but still have the acids that ruin your enamel. If you must drink soda, drink flavored (unsweetened) seltzer water.

4. Dark fruits – Blueberry, raspberry, cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, dark grapes… Generally, think of any fruits that are notorious for staining clothes as they will also stain your teeth. Just as with coffee and tea, these fruit juices will get through the enamel and leave nasty stains on your teeth.

5. Popsicles – Remember as a kid eating Popsicles and seeing your tongue turn the same color? The same thing happens with your teeth, albeit not as drastic. It’s the artificial coloring that does it. Moreover, the higher levels of sugar in Popsicles gives fuel for bacteria to eat away at your teeth.

6. Soy sauce – and just about any dark colored sauces like steak sauce, worcestershire, teriyaki, etc, will work like coffee and tea, getting through the enamel and discoloring your teeth from the inside out. Instead, try using seasonings like salt, black pepper, garlic, white vinegar, to boost the flavor of foods. You’ll find that soy sauce and other sauces are really just combinations of salt, spices and vinegar. At least this way, you will eliminate the dark colored stains and sugar.

7. Balsamic vinegar – is a dark colored vinegar, which like coffee and tea have the same teeth staining properties. Try instead using white vinegar; it won’t have the unique flavor of Balsamic, but still offers that pungent characteristic of vinegar. Practice with other seasonings to help boost the flavor white vinegar.

8. Tomatoes – contain acid, but is also a darker colored vegetable (or fruit depending on your point of view), therefore it slowly eats away at the enamel and stains your teeth at the same time.

9. Turmeric– or curry sauces, can stain teeth particularly if your enamel has already been weakened by other acidic or sugary foods. The bad news with turmeric is that once it stains your teeth, it’s very difficult to whiten. If you’re a big fan of turmeric, take care to brush your teeth immediately following.

10. Beets – are probably the worst staining vegetable. If you’re also using a teeth whitening product, it’s best to just avoid beets. Otherwise, drink some water with each bite to help dilute their juices, or be diligent about brushing your teeth afterwards.

11. Wine – Again, like with coffee and tea, the dark colored red wine will stain teeth. White wine might not stain teeth, but is highly acidic and sweet, and will weaken the enamel on your teeth, thus making them easier to stain.

12. Food Coloring – Read the ingredients list of any prepared food you buy to look for artificial coloring or food coloring. Darker colors like red, blue, green, can stain your teeth. The worst culprits are candy sprinkles for cupcakes and ice cream, children’s cereal, Skittles and M&M’s, fruit punches, and Sports Drinks (Gatorade, et al). Be aware that many flavored yogurts have food coloring in them, as do those deep yellowish pickles.