The sparkle of a bright smile is a surefire way to boost self-confidence and leave a lasting first impression.
Unfortunately, our teeth are not always this perfect, but professional teeth whitening is the remedy to that problem.
If you stumbled upon this article, chances are that you’ve already had a whitening treatment done or are considering one. In either case, continue reading to learn what the main causes of dental stains are and what to expect after whitening, including what you should and shouldn’t eat.
What causes stains in your teeth?
First, we must understand what causes stained teeth so that we can also learn how to prevent it, not just immediately after a whitening procedure but more importantly in the future.
Stains can be caused by both internal and external factors.
As for internal factors, the color of teeth can range from white to slightly yellow depending on the calcium level that is present.
When it comes to external factors, the issue lies primarily with the condition of the enamel. Even though it is the hardest substance in the human body, it is also very porous.
The foods and beverages we consume are largely responsible for the pigmentation and weakening of the enamel. As the enamel erodes, it becomes susceptible to better absorbing the color of the food we consume. In more extreme cases, the dentin layer that lies below it can begin to show through.
The substances that promote dental stains are primarily:
- Foods and beverages with dark pigmentation and/or high acidity (for example pomegranate seeds, beets, fruit juices, and coffee)
- Dyes, either natural or chemical (like candies or sweets made with food coloring)
- Chemical compounds (chromogens) that can oxidize or react when combined with other chemicals or products and turn into a colored substance (this is specifically found in berries, cherries, and tomatoes)
- Tannins, which are a group of polyphenols that help chromogens bind to the enamel, and cause stains (this is particularly found in red wine, tea, chocolate, and citrus fruits)
List of foods you can eat after teeth whitening
The general rule of thumb is to eat plain foods at room temperature. For the best results in maintaining your pearly whites, adopt the white food diet for the first couple of days following the whitening procedure.
Some excellent options include:
- White meat, like chicken, turkey, and white fish
- Veggies that are not rich in color, like potatoes, cauliflower, celery
- Fruits that are not rich in color, like pears, bananas, green grapes, and apples
- Grains, like white rice, oats, and pasta
- Baked goods, like white bread
- Nuts, like almonds, cashews, and peanuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Legumes, like chickpeas and white beans
- Egg whites or whole scrambled eggs
- Uncolored dairy products, like plain yogurt, white cheese, and milk
- White sauce, like alfredo
- Clear liquids, including regular, sparkling, and tonic water
- White wine
List of foods to avoid after tooth whitening
Eating the wrong foods, particularly the ones with strong pigments, can contribute to new stains. Avoid the following foods in the first two days following a whitening treatment.
- Red meat, like beef, chorizo, and salami
- Veggies with a dark hue, like spinach, peas, carrots, and green beans
- Dark fruits, like berries and pomegranate
- Acidic foods, like citrus fruits
- Pigmented spices, like paprika, curry, and turmeric
- Tomato sauce, like red pasta sauce and ketchup
- Jams and jellies
- Dark sauces, like barbecue, soy sauce, syrup
- Vinegar, especially balsamic
- Candy, including chewing gum and dark chocolate
- Coffee and black tea
- Colored soft drinks, like coke
- Sports and energy drinks
- Dark alcoholic beverages, like red wine and dark beer
- Dark fruit juices, like cherry, cranberry, and grape juice
- Tobacco products
Tips for proper care immediately after whitening
While some food and beverages are known to stain teeth more than others, we are not recommending permanent diet changes or that you should only eat foods on the white diet list every day.
These tips should help keep your teeth white longer.
- Only use white toothpaste.
- Avoid smoking and do not chew tobacco.
- Avoid overly hot or cold food. Tooth sensitivity can last a few days so it’s best to stick to room temperature foods until the sensitivity goes away.
- If you are desperate for a cup of coffee or any dark drinks for that matter, create a habit of drinking them through a straw. This will prevent the liquid from coming into direct contact with the teeth.
- Brush your teeth shortly after coming into contact with any food made with ingredients that aren’t on the white diet list, for example, pizza.
How long after teeth whitening can I eat normally?
The bleaching agent used in the whitening process makes your tooth enamel extremely vulnerable during the first day following the procedure. In order to prevent the negative impact of deeply-pigmented foods, it’s recommended that you stick to the white foods list for at least the first couple of days.
How often do teeth need to be whitened?
Your teeth can stay white for as little as 6 months or as long as 3 years. This will largely depend on your diet and health. You should consume foods that are beneficial to the remineralization and strengthening of the enamel, particularly those that are high in calcium and phosphorous.
Can I whiten my teeth at home?
There are several ways of whitening teeth such as with over-the-counter strips or with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. These methods, however, can be harsh and cause temporary side effects if not properly administered. For this reason, such treatments are best performed by a cosmetic dentist.
Our specialists at Kootenai Dental Group in Coeur d’Alene, ID are committed to your dental health. We take great pride in restoring teeth to give you a brighter smile. Call 208-762-8750 to set up your appointment today!