Contrary to Popular Belief, the Worst Beverage for Staining Teeth Is Neither Wine Nor Coffee

Photo: Getty Images/ jacoblund
There are some beauty goals that makeup just can't help with, and having a glistening grin of pearly whites is one of them. Unfortunately, getting your teeth professionally whitened can cost a pretty penny—according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, the average cost is $650. It's no wonder many people go to great lengths to keep their teeth from changing hues.

If you have a habit of starting your day with coffee and ending it with a full-bodied red, you may especially be finding yourself reaching for natural toothpaste with "whitening power." But according to dentist Inna Chern, DDS, the biggest teeth-staining culprit isn't coffee or wine. It's actually...tea.

Experts In This Article

"It is very true that tea stains teeth more than coffee due to its high tannin concentration," Chern says, adding that tannins are a group of bitter and astringent compounds.

When it comes to teeth-staining, Dr. Chern says not all teas are equal; some are more prone to stain teeth than others. Not surprisingly, she explains that it depends on the tannin content in the tea. "The amount of tannins in any particular tea variety varies by manufacturer, but it is safe to say that black tea and oolong have the highest amount while green tea has a much lower amount." Dr. Chern also adds that many herbal teas are tannin-free. "Tannin-free teas include most caffeine-free or herbals such as ginger, rosehip, chamomile, jasmine, and hibiscus," she says.

Find out how to make one of our favorite herbal tea recipes in this video:

Just because black tea and oolong tea have a high amount of tannins doesn't mean you should avoid them. All teas have health benefits and these two are no exception. Regularly consuming black tea may help decrease your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's disease—pretty major. Oolong tea is linked to lowering inflammation and is good for brain health.

How to prevent teeth stains caused by sipping tea

So what do you do? Dr. Chern offers up a few tips:

1. Add a little milk or alt-milk to your tea. Seems almost too obvious, but yes, this will lighten the color.

2. Prefer your tea without milk? Dr. Chern says you can also sip your tea through a straw, which minimizes the liquid-on-teeth contact.

3. "Drinking water and brushing your teeth after consuming high-tannin teas can also help," she says.

4. If you're already seeing staining on your pearly whites, try this $22 vegan whitening pen or one of these dentist-approved whitening tricks.

With these expert-approved tips, you don't have to decide between enjoying your favorite tea drink and your teeth. And you can worry a little less about the regularity of your coffee routine, too.

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