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Can You Still Enjoy Tea Without Staining Your Teeth?

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Everyone wants a bright, white smile. Yet if a good cup of tea is part of your daily routine, you might wonder, does tea stain your teeth?

The truth is tea, and similar dark beverages can potentially cause dental stains on tooth enamel. Though certain types of tea can also help strengthen your teeth and promote good oral health.

To better understand how to enjoy a good cup of tea while also maintaining your impressively white smile, we’re going to have to ask and answer a few important questions.

Benefits of Tea for Your Teeth

While it’s true that tea does stain your teeth, many types of tea can help strengthen your teeth and promote good oral health. Green tea and many types of black tea have fluoride in them, which can help fortify your tooth enamel.

Certain types of tea can also help reduce the bacteria in your mouth. This can reduce the acidic environment in your mouth which is one of the leading causes of tooth decay. 

This tea benefits your oral health by:

Why Does Tea Stain Your Teeth?

A cup of tea on a wooden table

If you were to look at the surface of your teeth with a microscope, you would see microscopic textures and pores in the tooth enamel. When you drink tea, tannins and other dark particles can adhere to these textured areas in your tooth enamel. In time, they can start to saturate deep into the enamel layers causing significant dental stains.

Highly acidic fruit teas and strong black teas can be very acidic in nature. This can gradually start to demineralize your tooth enamel, which expands those microscopic pores, making it even easier for tannins to penetrate the surfaces of your teeth.

A lot of people also add sugar to their tea, which promotes bad bacteria to create an acidic environment in your mouth. This further demineralizes tooth enamel, which makes it easier to tea to stain your teeth, while also putting you at increased risk of tooth decay.

Types of Teas That Stain Teeth the Most

The chemistry of different teas can affect their pH level, as well as the amount of tannin you expose your tooth enamel to with each sip. You’re probably wondering does black tea stain your teeth? 

Unfortunately for tea lovers, black teas tend to be more likely to cause stains on your teeth than others. To the point that it might even influence your choices in tea going forward. Many people wonder does coffee or tea stain your teeth more. The truth is it depends on the type of tea. 

Black Tea

Black teas like Early Grey, and Oolong have a slightly acidic pH which can demineralize your tooth enamel over time. Black teas also have a high tannin level, which means as the microscopic pores of your tooth enamel expand, there is even more tannins to stain your teeth.

Though there are some black teas like Darjeeling, and Pu-erh that have a lower acidity, which might make them a better choice if you’re a black tea lover. Pu-erh in particular comes with a lot of other health benefits, including helping to lower the risk of certain types of cancer, including oral cancer.

Green Tea

It’s fair to wonder does green tea stain your teeth? On the positive side, green tea has a higher percentage of fluoride, as well as a less acidic pH. This means that unsweetened green tea can help strengthen tooth enamel rather than demineralize it.

Green tea has other oral health benefits that go beyond the decreased risk of staining your teeth. The polyphenols in green tea can also help reduce gum inflammation and gum disease. Its high antioxidant content can also help prevent certain types of cancer, including oral cancer.

It’s when you start adding sugar to green tea that you run into a problem. The bad bacteria in your mouth thrive on the sucrose of dissolved sugar, which promotes an acidic environment, which demineralizes tooth enamel. This allows the mild degree of tannins in green tea to still stain your teeth.

White Tea

White tea can cause stains on teeth, as it is made from the same plant as black and green tea. However, it has the lowest tannin level and the highest antioxidant level of all three traditional types of tea.

White tea also has a modest amount of fluoride, which helps prevent tooth enamel demineralization when you drink it unsweetened. Though it’s also one of the most expensive types of traditional tea, which might not make it feasible as your go-to daily tea.

Herbal Tea

Some herbal teas are low in tannins and have a neutral pH, which can be beneficial for your tooth enamel, with a lower risk of staining your teeth. This includes chamomile tea, mint tea, and fennel tea. Though lemon, rosehip, and blackberry teas are highly acidic, which can demineralize tooth enamel and promote stains on your teeth.

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint tea is one of the better options for preventing stains on teeth. It doesn’t have tannins and has a neutral pH, which won’t harm tooth enamel. Peppermint tea also has antibacterial properties, which can further help reduce the acidic environment in your mouth to help prevent stains on your teeth. It can also reduce the risk of minor oral infections.

How to Drink Tea Without Staining Teeth?

While tea does stain your teeth, there are still things you can do to reduce the risk of dental stains. This starts with simple things like how you drink your tea or choosing a tea like peppermint that has very low tannins.  

Other things you can do to avoid tea stains on your teeth include:

There are also special treatments you can do at home or have performed by your dentist to eliminate tea stains before they have a chance to set in. This includes things like:

Some dentists also offer special laser teeth whitening treatments. This is an outpatient treatment process that takes about an hour and uses a combination of light, heat, and a peroxide-based solution to eliminate deeply set-in dental stains from your tooth enamel.

Other Substances That Stain Teeth

Of course, tea isn’t the only popular food or drink that can stain teeth. There are plenty of other things that have a high concentration of tannins, or the kind of acidic nature that can demineralize tooth enamel, making it easier for dental stains to deepen. This includes things like:

Conclusion

The tannin content and acidic nature means that tea does stain teeth. Though many teas do also come with some oral health benefits. Green tea in particular has a high fluoride content with many antioxidants that can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and some oral cancers.

Preventing yellow teeth by drinking tea through a straw or choosing teas that have a lower tannin content will certainly help. Leaving the sugar out and drinking unsweetened tea will also help keep your teeth strong to keep dental stains from setting into the surfaces of your tooth enamel.

Some simple at-home whitening products might be able to help remove existing tea stains. Though you might be wondering is teeth whitening safe? When used correctly, they are. Though your dentist might also suggest some simple, teeth whitening methods, such as teeth bleaching to safely whiten your teeth in a clinical setting.

 

FAQ

Most frequent questions and answers

If your tooth enamel has already suffered significant demineralization, it might tea can stain your teeth in as little as three to five minutes. Though the longer you go without brushing your teeth after drinking tea, the more likely the tannins are to set into the microscopic pores of your tooth enamel. This can lead to constantly increasing tea stains.

Drinking tea through a straw, drinking unsweetened tea, and brushing your teeth shortly after drinking it, will help prevent tea stains on your teeth. You should also attend your routine dental cleanings, which include a special polishing procedure to help remove a modest degree of dental stains.

If possible, try to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste approved by the ADA right after drinking tea. Not only will this help remove surface tea stains from your teeth, but the fluoride can help reverse the acidic demineralization of tea on your tooth enamel.

You might be wondering does tea stain your teeth more than coffee? In some cases the tannin content of some black teas can be as high or higher than coffee, making it just as likely to stain your teeth. However, coffee is still more likely to stain your tooth enamel than green or white tea.

Even light roast coffees will stain your teeth more than green, white, and most herbal teas. Though black teas like Oolong and Darjeeling can have just as high tannin content and acidity, which can make them just as capable of staining your teeth as coffee. 

Iced tea has the same tannins and acidic nature of black tea, which means it can still stain your teeth. However, the ice tends to water down the concentration of tannins. Yet this minor improvement is often negated by any sugar added to the ice tea, which bacteria in your mouth can use to promote an acidic oral environment. 

Unsweetened green tea has a high amount of fluoride and somewhat low tannin content, which can help strengthen tooth enamel while reducing the risk of tea stains on your teeth. It can also help wash away the bad bacteria that promote tooth decay and gum disease.

Tea itself doesn’t cause tartar, but adding sugar to tea can promote plaque buildup, which can harden into tartar if you don’t have a good oral hygiene routine. If you have excess plaque buildup in your mouth before drinking a tea that is high in fluoride, and you don’t brush your teeth reasonably soon after it could accelerate the tartar hardening process.

If you’re attempting to whiten your teeth at home with whitening strips or whitening toothpaste, you might want to cut back on your tea consumption. If possible, you should also try to brush your teeth immediately after drinking tea to keep newly introduces tannins from working against your teeth-whitening efforts.

Black teas like Oolong, and Darjeeling can easily stain teeth. This is due to their high tannin content and the demineralization effect on tooth enamel caused by their mildly acidic nature.

Green tea still can stain your teeth. Especially if you are adding sugar to it. So, be sure to leave the sugar out, or only use a small amount. Then brush your teeth after drinking it to remove any surface stains before they get a chance to set into your tooth enamel.

White tea still has a small amount of tannins and acid which left unchecked can cause mild stains on your teeth. Just leave it unsweetened and try to brush your teeth after drinking white tea.

When it comes to stains on your teeth, sweet tea tends to be a double whammy. Not only does it contain the same sort of high tannin content and acidity as black tea, but it also introduces a high amount of sugar, which promotes bad bacteria. This raises overall oral acidity, which can start to demineralize tooth enamel, which allows tannins and other staining compounds to deeply saturate your tooth enamel. 

Peppermint tea is very low in tannins and is highly unlikely to stain your teeth. Though you don’t want to over-sweeten it, as sugar can promote bad bacteria growth, which can affect the strength of your tooth enamel, making your teeth more prone to stains from other substances.

Some herbal teas like mint, chamomile, and fennel have a low risk of staining your teeth. These teas tend to be low in tannins and modest in acidity. Though other teas like rosehip and lemon tea are highly acidic and have enough tannins to stain your teeth rapidly.

Sources

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