Everything You’ve Ever Need To Know About Getting Whiter Teeth

Trying to get whiter teeth is not easy for most people, but there are numerous ways you can prevent those disgusting yellow stains from constantly appearing. The biggest contributing factors to keeping your teeth white are your daily habits including the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. In this guide, we will explain the foods and beverages to avoid, along with some everyday tips so you can get whiter teeth. In addition, we will show you some great options if you want to see quick results in the color of your teeth. We will explain the teeth whitening solutions provided by us along with some at home remedies that may work for you as well.

Tooth discoloration can be on the surface of your teeth or from changes occurring inside the teeth. There are three types of tooth discoloration that are most common: Extrinsic, Intrinsic, and age-related.

Extrinsic discoloration is tooth discoloration on the outside of your teeth (the enamel) caused by the things we consume on a daily basis. To get whiter teeth, you must be cautious of the foods and beverages you consume. Acidic foods and beverages cause tooth discoloration by wearing away at the enamel and softening the teeth, making them stain very easily. It’s also important to be careful with sugary and starchy foods as they can cause your teeth to quickly lose their bright white color. In order to keep your teeth white, you have to watch out for certain colors of foods and beverages as well. Anything that will stain the furniture in your home or the numerous white t-shirts that you own will most likely stain your teeth as well. That being said, we have made a list of the foods and beverages to stay away from if you want to keep those pearly white teeth intact.

Beverages that cause tooth discoloration

  • Red wine – the red/purple color of wine contains tannins and chromogens that can quickly cause tooth discoloration.
  • Fruit juice – certain juices can stain teeth more than others depending on the color of the fruit. A lot of berry juices can easily stain teeth. 100% juice is the best for your teeth and overall health because there is no added sugar.
  • Sports drinks – high sugar content, and the coloring of the drink can stain teeth.
  • Lemonade – the high levels of citric acid in lemonade can cause your teeth to stain quite easily
  • Colored soda – not only the coloring in the soda can stain your teeth, but the high levels of carbonation increases the acidity, which will stain your teeth as well.
  • Tea and coffee – both coffee and tea have tannins that can cause tooth discoloration, and are both typically consumed at a very hot temperature. The temperature of your beverage, cold and hot, causes your teeth to expand or contract causing the enamel to be easily stained. Additionally, coffee and tea are often sipped slowly, causing acid levels to remain high for long periods of time.

Foods that cause tooth discoloration

  • Berries – blueberries, cherries, blackberries, raspberries & pomegranates all have powerful colors that can cause tooth discoloration.
  • Tomato sauce & ketchup – the bright red color along with high acidity levels can leave stains on your teeth.
  • Starchy foods – breads, pastas, rice and potatoes, these foods can erode enamel due to the high levels of acid in starch. If a starch is cooked, it has a much higher likelihood of raising acid levels in the mouth.
  • Sugary cereals – with a combination of sugar and starch, some cereals will cause staining as well as plaque buildup in your teeth.
  • Popsicles & colored candy – these contain colorants that can easily embed themselves in your enamel, discoloring your teeth. If you want to keep your teeth white, stay away from sticky or gummy candies because they can be stuck to your teeth for long periods of time.
  • Dressings, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar – dark colored liquids that you add to food typically contain high levels of acidity that will stain your teeth. Opt for light colored condiments for whiter teeth.
  • Beets – contain intense staining agents, and cause even more tooth discoloration when in juice form.
  • Curry – the yellow or red color leaves a tinge on your teeth.
  • Snacking – one of the best habits to have whiter teeth is to cut out the snacking. With plenty of time between meals, saliva can flow through the mouth, cleaning out stain causing bacteria.

Intrinsic discoloration occurs inside of your teeth (the dentin) and it can darken from certain conditions or tooth trauma.

Intrinsic causes of tooth discoloration:

  • If your mouth came in contact with fluoride to often at an early age
  • Tooth trauma at a young age, such as getting hit by a baseball
  • Tooth trauma from internal bleeding that discolored your tooth
  • If your mother used tetracycline antibiotics during her second half of pregnancy
  • If you were born with dentiogenesis imperfect, a rare condition that causes a grey/purple tooth discoloration

Age related – A combination of extrinsic and intrinsic factors cause this type of tooth discoloration. As you get older, your enamel starts to thin causing the discoloration of your dentin to show through. An injury resulting in a chipped tooth can cause your teeth to stain.  And lastly, food, beverages, and smoking, and tobacco products will naturally cause your teeth to stain over time.


Consistently having white teeth is not difficult to accomplish. By simply being aware of the types of foods and beverages that cause tooth discoloration will put you on the right track. Listed below are some everyday things you should do to keep your teeth white.

  • Proper hygiene – brushing, flossing, mouthwash and regular dental checkups- the sooner the better. To keep your teeth white, it is recommended to brush within an hour after you have eaten.
  • Drink water – if you do not have access to your toothbrush, taking a swig of water will help to wash away stain causing foods and beverages.
  • Use a straw – when consuming a beverage, using a straw forces the liquids straight down your throat and avoiding coming in contact with your teeth.

Foods that may help keep your teeth white:

  • Cheese and milk – will cause an increase of saliva flow which will wash away food from your teeth. This will keep the enamel protected from foods that can stain teeth. They contain high protein, calcium, and phosphorous levels, which protects your enamel from erosion.
  • Sugar-free gum – chewing gum will also cause an increase in saliva flow
  • Fish and flaxseed – in order to keep you r teeth healthy it is important to consume fish, fish oil, flaxseed, and high levels of omegs 3’s. These foods reduce inflammation in your mouth, and prevent gum disease. Gum disease is formed from pockets of bacteria causing inflammation that can damage the tissue surrounding your teeth
  • Cocoa – foods containing cocoa can reduce inflation and protect teeth from decay and erosion. So yes, a little chocolate every once in a while will not lead to cavities or other problems with your teeth. And if possible choose dark chocolate due to the high sugar content in milk chocolate.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet with nutrients including vitamin D, vitamin C, and calcium.


If you want to get whiter teeth, a dentist can provide common procedures that will give you a brighter smile. Whitening procedures help restore the life and brightness for dull, stained, or discolored teeth.

How teeth whitening works

There are several ways to get whiter teeth. Whether you choose an over-the-counter product or opt for a Zoom Whitening procedure, teeth whitening works using bleach ingredients to achieve a whiter smile.

Teeth whitening procedures use bleaching agents to change the natural color of your teeth, and can sometimes make teeth five to seven shades brighter. The bleaching agent contains an active ingredient, usually carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These ingredients can remove deep and stubborn surface stains on teeth that could be a result of many things, including tea, coffee, tobacco or wine. The active teeth whitening ingredient enters your enamel and works to combat against discolored molecules in the teeth. Oxygen molecules from the whitening ingredient react with the discolored molecules to break their bonds. After this occurs, the oxygen molecules take over your teeth, spreading within the enamel to produce a brighter smile.

While over the counter teeth whitening products like strips and toothpaste may assist somewhat in resolving the surface stains on your teeth, the best way to have safe, long-lasting results is to make an appointment for professional teeth whitening. If done professionally using techniques such as Zoom or custom made bleaching trays, whitening can last up to 5 years or longer (depending on personal habits and maintenance).

The best options to get whiter teeth

  • Zoom teeth whitening: This is one the best options to get whiter teeth and can be completed in one office visit and produces immediate, long-lasting results. The dental hygienist or assistant uses a special light to whiten teeth an average of eight shades lighter in about an hour.
  • Tray Whitening: A dental hygienist or assistant will take a mold of your teeth to make your own custom, take home mouth trays. These trays are then worn at night OR for a brief time during the day, depending on what kind of gel in the dentist recommends for the tray.

More questions about teeth whitening?

If you live in the Lansing, Michigan area feel free to contact the office of Dr. Daniel J. Derksen, DDS, PLLC and we’ll be happy to answer your teeth whitening questions or schedule an appointment for a teeth whitening.

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