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Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

Healthy and Healthy-Looking Teeth: A Vegetarian’s Dilemma

Foods That Stain

A vegetarian diet comes with many benefits as well as challenges. One challenge many might not think about is a greater risk of stained teeth. When it comes to nutrition and green vegetables, darker tends to be better. Despite all the nutrients, dark greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli also more easily stain teeth than most foods.

Foods That Stick

Sticky foods also pose a problem. Candy and caramel first come to mind, but more health conscious eaters may discover this problem with foods like raisins, and other dried fruits. Beverages are another important part of the equation. Coffee and tea are notorious for their teeth-darkening potential, as are red wine, beets, tomatoes, and soy sauce.

Missing Nutrients

As if this isn’t enough, vegans face their own unique challenges, since they often are missing the calcium and whitening properties of dairy products. Dairy products can also help raise the pH balance of the mouth’s saliva, which in turn discourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Of course, calcium is available in many vegetables, as are foods with a naturally high pH level, but incorporating them into a vegetarian or vegan diet calls for more conscientious meal planning than most may be accustom.

What You Can Do

Whether you identify as a shameless omnivore, a casual vegetarian, or a strict vegan adherent, when it comes to stained teeth, prevention is the aim of the game. Be prepared to brush twice a day, preferably after every meal, and floss.

If you think there might be one or more nutrients that you’re missing, talk with your dentist, doctor or a nutritionist about a supplement regimen. Augmenting your current diet with lighter fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, and cauliflower can help help offset the aesthetic damage done by the darker greens. Also, think about alternatives to the problem foods listed above. For example, try switching to white or green tea.

Finally, if the stains dismay you, there are still professional teeth-whitening solutions. For modest staining, at-home whitening treatments are effective, and affordable. More severe discoloration may require the attention of a dentist. Surface whitening and bonding are options that you might want to explore with the dentist. Following a tooth whitening treatment, make sure to incorporate smile-friendly tips into your diet.