We’ve already lectured you on the many different ways you can whiten your teeth, but isn’t prevention the best road to take? We spoke with New York City-based dentist Lindi Orlin, D.D.S., to learn which foods and environmental factors can cause damage to your teeth, and how to prevent it.
“Any colored foods or beverages—whether it’s pasta sauce, blueberries, coffee, or red wine—will stain your teeth,” explains Dr. Orlin. And while it’s near impossible to stay away from these foods completely, you can combat discoloration by eating them in moderation, brushing twice a day, or whitening your teeth.
“Anything with sugar is going to be bad for your teeth,” says Dr. Orlin. “However, it becomes a real problem when you’re excessively eating sugary foods, be it candy, soda, even fruit!” When you eat sweet foods in abundance, the sugar prevents your saliva from neutralizing the acids in your mouth that stop plaque from forming—which leads to cavities. Dr. Orlin’s advice? “If you can’t brush your teeth after eating candy or sweet treats, rinse your mouth with water. This will get rid of the excess sugar sitting on your teeth and gums.”
We’ve all heard how bad smoking is for you in general, but it can wreck havoc in your mouth. “Smoking dries out your mouth, and the less saliva you have, the more cavities and plaque will form,” clarifies Dr. Orlin. “Smoking also badly stains your teeth, not to mention the threat of oral cancer!”
Completely eliminating foods like pasta and wine are unreasonable for most, but there are ways you can lessen the potential hazards on your pearly whites. “Chewing sugar-free gum is really good for your teeth,” says Dr. Orlin. “Chewing produces more saliva, which neutralizes your mouth and prevents plaque. Just make sure it’s sugar-free, or you’ll be doing more harm than good.” And don’t forget to brush and floss at least twice a day!