Skip to content

I'm a Dentist and These Surprising Habits Stain Your Teeth Fastest

You wouldn't suspect the top five offenders.

Your smile is one of the first things people notice when they meet you and one of the biggest factors in whether or not they find you attractive, studies show. If, like many people, you'd like your smile to be brighter, you'll want to maintain proper hygiene by brushing, flossing, and rinsing twice a day.

However, Derek Chung, DMD, a Toronto-based dentist and the founder of Paste Dental, says that there's more to a great smile than having good hygiene habits. In a recent TikTok video, he shared that the foods you eat and other choices you make can also be to blame for stained, yellow teeth—but you'd never guess what they are.

Wondering which surprising things could be causing discoloration? Read on to learn the top five ways you're dimming your smile without realizing it.

RELATED: 7 Foods That Can Help Whiten Your Teeth Naturally, Experts Say.

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce with basil

Tomato sauce is probably not high on your list of offenders when it comes to tooth discoloration, but Chung says it's a common source of stains. That's because it packs a one-two punch of being both highly acidic and highly pigmented. This damages the protective layers of your teeth and allows color to seep in.

"Have you ever tried to put tomato sauce into a plastic container, and when you clean it, it takes forever to get off? The exact same thing can happen to your teeth," Chung explains in the video. "It's hard to brush off."

RELATED: What Happens to Your Teeth If You Don't Visit the Dentist Every Six Months.

White wine

Pouring white wine into glasses in autumn day, soft focus

You're likely already aware that red wine can easily stain your teeth, but fewer people realize that white wine can also pose a problem. In fact, any alcoholic beverage can cause discoloration since its acidity erodes the enamel on the surface of your teeth.

"The acidity inside of white wine can make your teeth softer and when you brush them off over time, it can make your teeth yellow," Chung explains. The sugar in alcohol can compound the problem by further damaging the enamel and allowing bacteria in.


turmeric curcumin

A recent TikTok fad would have you believe that you can actually whiten your teeth with turmeric. However, Chung's advice suggests the opposite—just as turmeric can stain your clothing or countertops, it can also easily stain your teeth with a bright yellow hue, he says.

"Have you ever tried putting turmeric into a shake or put turmeric into a curry? The neon yellow color of turmeric is so pigmented that it can actually stain your teeth bright yellow," Chung says, adding that fillings and crowns may be especially vulnerable.

RELATED: 8 Surprising Habits That Turn Your Teeth Yellow.


berries thyroid health

Berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants, and according to Harvard Health Publishing, they're "among the healthiest foods you can eat." However, while Chung agrees that berries are "great for your health," he also warns that they're "terrible for your teeth," thanks to their rich pigmentation which can leave stains behind.

In particular, Chung warns that blueberries stain your teeth blue, and raspberries can stain your teeth red. "They're full of color," he notes.

However, it's best not to give up on this superfood entirely. Instead of cutting berries out of your diet, you can enjoy them without consequence by drinking water between bites and brushing your teeth after eating.


Woman smoking a cigarette.

There are countless ways that giving up smoking can benefit your health: It can lower your risk of over 12 types of cancer, boost your heart health, improve respiratory capacity, and so much more. Additionally, Chung says that there's another, less talked about benefit: whiter teeth.

"Smoking cigarettes or smoking marijuana is really bad for your teeth and can stain your teeth yellow. It's so hard to get off," he says.

According to the Oral Health Foundation, smoking has this effect due to the nicotine, tar, and toxic chemicals found in cigarettes. "It can make your teeth yellow in a very short time, and heavy smokers often complain that their teeth are almost brown after years of smoking," their experts warn.

For more wellness tips sent directly to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
Filed Under
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source: