We know that discolored teeth are not just unattractive, they’re aging, making us look much older than we are. That’s why many people are trying to avoid dark foods and beverages that can discolor teeth, like coffee and red wine.

But there’s a problem: not all the foods that stain your teeth are actually dark in color. Here are some examples of foods that can stain your teeth, even though they’re light in color.

White Wine

It’s an easy substitution to make: just ditch red wine for white, right? It seems logical that white wine won’t stain your teeth because it’s pale in color, but science has shown that white wine can also lead to tooth staining.

Here’s what happens: the acid in wine causes your tooth enamel to soften, making it more permeable to staining compounds, which penetrate into your teeth and get embedded there, darkening your teeth.

Clear Sodas and Carbonated Waters

Cola is another seemingly easy target to get rid of for tooth staining. Lemon-lime sodas or, better yet, carbonated waters are a much better choice to avoid staining your teeth.

But these have the same problem as white wine, because they’re highly acidic. In fact, sparkling waters are often more acidic than sodas, and they can lead to permanent discoloration of your teeth because they thin the enamel and allow yellow dentin to show through.

Green Tea

Black tea looks like it will stain your teeth because it’s dark in color, so you might think that switching to green tea will help with staining. But drinking green tea can lead to a yellowing of your tooth enamel.

And here’s another of nature’s little tricks: green tea contains the same chemicals as black tea, just in a different form. You might think that green tea gets roasted to become black tea, but it actually gets aged, allowing the chemicals to oxidize and turn dark in color. So what do you think is going to happen to green tea stains over time?


Sure, apples look white on the inside, but you know what happens if you leave apples out, right? That’s because apples contain a compound known as polyphenol oxidase which ripens them and causes them to turn brown in color. It’s an oxidation process similar to what turns green tea into black tea.


Potatoes, like apples, turn dark in color after they’ve been exposed to oxygen, but in this case it’s due to a chemical called tyrosine.

There’s another reaction that can actually turn potatoes black. When the iron and chlorogenic acid in potatoes are exposed to a reactive metal like iron or aluminum, they can turn black. It’s not known if a similar reaction occurs in the presence of metal amalgam fillings, which themselves turn black with age.

Staining Is Inevitable

Hopefully, we’ve given you enough examples that you get the picture: tooth staining is inevitable. There’s always going to be something in your diet that stains your teeth, and, over time, it’s going to lead to discolored teeth.

But that doesn’t mean you have to live with discolored teeth. Teeth whitening is quite effective at remove food-related stains. And if your teeth are discolored from within or because acid erosion has thinned the enamel, dental veneers can cover up the stained teeth and give you a bright, white smile. And veneers are stain-resistant, shedding staining molecules for ten years or more with proper maintenance.

If you want to learn more about achieving and maintaining a whiter smile, please call 201-343-4044 for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at River Edge Dental, New Jersey’s center for general & cosmetic dentistry.