We often talk about the types of foods that can stain our teeth and make them darker or yellower, and generally less appealing. Foods such as dark berries, tomato sauce, coffee, red wine, energy drinks, dark cola, fruit juice, tea, and others are bad choices if you want to keep your teeth as white as possible.
What’s more, ignoring your enamel’s health is also generally bad if you want white teeth as once the enamel is gone it exposes the dentin underneath which does have a yellow hue itself.
Now that we’re aware of the Don’ts, however, let’s go over the Dos too and explore what foods make your teeth whiter. We’ve got 14 delicious suggestions for teeth-whitening foods below, so, let’s not dilly-dally any longer.
What Foods Make Your Teeth Whiter?
If you’re actively trying to whiten your teeth with certain at-home or in-office kits, gels, and trays, it’s always recommended to steer clear of teeth-coloring foods such as coffee and sauces. What if you choose to go a step further and focus more on foods that not only won’t discolor your teeth but are ones that’d outright help you keep them whiter? Here are 14 delicious suggestions.
You may have heard an old people saying that eating an apple is like half-brushing your teeth. Of course, that’s not at all true, and eating four apples certainly doesn’t replace the effect of brushing your teeth twice a day. However, it is true that apples help keep your teeth whiter. That’s because of their unique texture which, in combination with their acidity, helps apples effectively scrub food particles and plaque off your teeth.
That same acidity can be troublesome for your enamel, however, which is why drinking some water afterward is a good idea.
Pineapples contain a special type of proteolytic enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme is especially good at breaking down the proteins in the pellicle layer of our teeth. That layer is generally good at protecting our enamel but it also gives the bacteria in our mouth a good surface to stick to, create plaque on, and further harm and discolor our teeth.
This fruit is beneficial in several different ways than the previous two. For starters, watermelons are chock-full of malic acid which is known to both stimulate saliva production and lighten our teeth’s enamel. Watermelons also have a great fibrous texture and a high-water content which is also great at scrubbing other food particles off our teeth.
Like watermelons, strawberries have high contents of malic acid enzyme. It’s generally harder to eat as many strawberries as you can watermelon, however, but strawberries are still lauded as a great food for whitening your teeth. That’s especially noteworthy given that berry fruits are usually the exact opposite. While noteworthy, that’s not really surprising, however, given that strawberries aren’t actual berries despite their name.
5. Dairy products
Yogurt, milk, cheese, and other dairy products are well-known to be good for our bones and teeth because they contain lactic acid and calcium. Hard white cheeses are especially good because their texture also helps clean our teeth.
6. Citrus fruits
Similar to some other fruits on this list, citruses such as oranges, lemons, and pomegranates can help whiten our teeth by cleaning them off while we’re eating. They also stimulate our saliva production and contain lots of Vitamin C. Given that they are highly acidic, however, they can harm our tooth enamel so it’s best to drink or gargle some water after eating citrus fruits.
7. Leafy green vegetables
Like apples, leafy greens such as celery, and even broccoli are great for our teeth because their texture helps clean them off as we chew. The fact that they are immensely healthy in general is another huge plus.
Carrots are among the healthiest veggies and they also help protect our white teeth by cleaning them off as we eat. They are also very rich in minerals and vitamins which further strengthen our teeth.
A less-talked-about fruit, papaya also contains a proteolytic enzyme similar to the one in pineapples. In papayas, however, it’s called papain and it also reduces plaque formation.
10. Baking soda
Baking soda is famous as an alternative to toothpaste when you happen to run out of the latter at an inconvenient time. What’s more, baking soda is an active ingredient in a lot of modern toothpaste brands because of how great it is at teeth whitening.
11. Sugar-free gum
While it’s not technically “a food”, chewing some sugar-free gum once or twice a day can be a great way to keep your teeth whiter and healthier as it helps remove a lot of the food particles and plaque off our teeth while also stimulating our saliva production.
Few people speak about onions when it comes to tooth care because they tend to stink. However, onions are a great type of food against plaque buildup because they have anti-plaque properties. What’s more, raw onions (in salads, for example) have very strong antibacterial effects which are highly beneficial. This makes the combination of leafy greens, onions, and white cheeses a fantastic and healthy dish for someone who wants a healthier diet and whiter teeth.
Because of their structure and texture, many types of nuts and seeds can function as fantastic exfoliators for your teeth. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and others are great at scrubbing food particles off your teeth. This makes almost any nut a natural teeth whitener in addition to them just being awfully healthy in general.
14. Plain water
Probably the simplest but most effective and healthiest “natural food” for whiter teeth is plain old water. In fact, we already mentioned it several times above.
Water is great at washing away food particles from your teeth either while drinking or by gargling. It’s also fantastic for after you’ve eaten something acidic like an apple or an orange – foods that do help clean and whiten our teeth but that shouldn’t be allowed to stick to them either.
What makes water especially crucial is that it’s generally not a good idea to brush your teeth immediately after eating acidic foods. So, drinking water comes in as the perfect alternative. Plus, water is also great at remineralizing our teeth too, it stimulates our saliva production, and it’s incredibly healthy for our whole bodies, not just our teeth. So, water’s benefits are nearly incalculable.
Is Eating Such Foods on a Daily Basis Enough to Whiten Your Teeth?
Obviously, when we’re talking about what foods make your teeth whiter, we don’t mean that eating strawberries daily will have a drastically significant effect on your teeth’s color. If your teeth are severely discolored and covered with stains, and/or if you have some overly high expectations about the effects of strawberries, papaya, and watermelon, you may end up a bit disappointed.
For better or for worse, if you want a drastic change in your teeth color, you are going to focus a lot on maintaining good oral hygiene as well as talk with your dentist about some heavy-duty teeth whitening solutions such as in-office whitening kits.
The maintenance we’re talking about is pretty much what you’d expect – get the right whitening toothpaste, a nice soft brush, some dental floss, and mouthwash, and use them daily and adequately. This will reduce the amount of bacteria and plaque in your mouth and limit the effects of teeth colorants in your food.
Plus, your teeth will just be healthier and safer from stuff such as cavities, periodontitis tooth decay, and other nasty problems.
All this isn’t to say that focusing on foods that make your teeth whiter isn’t necessary, however. In fact, it can be very helpful.
For starters, focusing more on teeth-whitening foods over teeth-coloring foods such as tomato sauces, coffee, chocolate, red wine, and others will drastically prolong the time you have between teeth-whitening sessions and will reduce the need for specialized teeth-whitening toothpaste. Plus, these foods are generally very healthy so it’s a win-win.
Just as there are foods that will quickly and severely discolor your teeth if you consume them too often, there are also foods that not only don’t do that but will actually help you maintain the sparkling white smile you want.
Of course, such foods aren’t an excuse not to brush your teeth properly or visit your dentist regularly. However, they are a healthy, delicious, and very convenient way to supplement your other teeth-whitening efforts and get both the healthiest and whitest smile possible.