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Who doesn’t warm to a flashy grin of pearly whites?

It’s nice to have a healthy-looking smile, but if your teeth are turning yellow it could be a sign that your oral hygiene isn’t quite up to scratch.

But what actually causes this discolouring? Well the old adage ‘we are what we eat’ certainly applies in this case. Just as there are some foodstuffs that can whiten your teeth – basil leaves, baking soda or even fruit peel – there are others that do quite the opposite.

As such, if you’re serious about your smile, it’s best to give these oral party poopers a wide berth.

But before we get into the nitty gritty of what to avoid, it’s important to stress that simply maintaining proper oral hygiene will go a long way to making your smile look its best.

That is to say pay close attention to routinely brushing, flossing, and rinsing.

It’s also wise to eat a healthy diet, which will not only help prevent teeth staining but also improve both your oral and general physical health.

Women’s well-being website Health Shots asked senior consultant-clinical nutritionist Deepti Lokeshappa, of the Motherhood Hospital, Bengaluru, to seek out the very worst food and drink for yellowing our teeth.

Lokeshappa said: “Having your morning coffee or your favourite noodles for lunch might be doing a lot more than providing you calories and energy. Your dental health is directly affected by what you eat or drink. Consuming food items with dark pigments and acidic content can lead to stains on your teeth.”

And so, here’s a not-so magnificent seven of the very worst offenders:

  1. Cola
    Beloved by many of us, carbonated drinks such as cola have very acidic pH that can savagely erode the enamel layer.

And as any dentist will tell you, once tooth enamel is damaged there is no way of bringing it back. Unfortunately this absence of enamel can make your teeth more susceptible to staining.

Plus carbonated drinks often have flavour-enhancing chemicals added to them which are not good for our teeth and can lead to decay.

  1. Tea and coffee
    Most of us start the day with it, but the nation’s two favourite hot beverages contain tannins that can cause colour compounds to stick to your teeth, leading to yellowing. Coffee is also naturally very acidic, which of course is bad news. So what’s the answer? Simple – drink herbal tea to kick-start your day.
  2. Sweets and chocolate
    No way! Not our lovely sweets and chocs! Well, sadly, we all know, deep down, that sugar really is the sworn enemy of our gnashers. Chomping down on sweet treats, especially darker ones like chocolate, can cause staining.

Boiled sweets are full of pigments that can stick to your teeth. Mercifully all this won’t do you too much harm – unless you indulge too often. So hands off that sweet tin!

  1. Soy sauce
    Ooh you can’t beat a bit of flavour-boosting soy sauce – but your teeth are less keen. This is because the dark brown pigment is a serious stainer. As such, chowing down on too many highly concentrated sauces should be avoided if you can.
  2. Citrus and acidic food items
    Citric foods such as lemon or tomato may be nutrition packed but they can erode your enamel layer like nobody’s business. This can be a particular problem if you eat too much of it, which can also boost your risk for developing cavities.
  3. Blackberries, blueberries and pomegranates
    While abundant in antioxidants – which may protect your cells from harmful free radicals – they are also highly pigmented which can cause staining. It is advised to still eat them – just not too many!
  4. Red (and white!) wine
    The absolute classic of all teeth-stainers.

And it isn’t just red wine that’s the problem – white can be just as bad.

This is because the acid in wine damages the enamel, thus making your teeth more susceptible to becoming yellow.

To sum up, it is vital to remember that it is still ok to have all of the above – but just don’t have too much of any of it .

Be mindful of the quantities you consume to protect your teeth.