This Drink Stains Your Teeth More Than Any Other

Surprisingly enough, the worst offender isn't coffee or wine.

I'm sure you've seen one of the many tooth whitening commercials out there, whether it's for one of those weird mouth trays with caustic-looking gel in them or for abrasive tooth-whitening toothpaste. Watching those commercials makes me wonder if my teeth are stained some weird shade of brown or something. Interestingly enough, Well+Good investigated which beverage has the strongest staining power. Turns out that you coffee and wine lovers can breathe a little easier. Any guesses as to what it is?

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I won't leave you hanging: it's tea. Who knew? Inna Chern, DDS, says, "It is very true that tea stains teeth more than coffee due to its high tannin concentration." (Tannins are the compounds that make tea taste bitter.) Those of you who prefer green tea (which is me, lately), don't have to worry too much. Black and oolong tea have much higher concentrations of tannins, which'll brown your pearly whites over time.

Dr. Chern says, "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." Herbal teas are generally okay for your teeth, though. "Tannin-free teas include most caffeine-free or herbals such as ginger, rosehip, chamomile, jasmine, and hibiscus," she adds. She also has a few tips for you tea drinkers in case you're worried.

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  • Add milk (or milk alternatives) to your tea. It'll lighten up the color and thereby stain your teeth less.
  • Wash the tea down with some water and then brush your teeth afterwards, if you're drinking a high-tannin variety.
  • Using a straw will also minimize the amount of tea that touches your teeth, if you're willing to go that route.
  • Heh. I'm a writer. Nobody needs to see my teeth. I'll drink black tea whenever I feel like it, because I'm a rebel. But if my dental situation gets gnarly later, I'll have to save up a bit—the average cost of getting teeth professionally whitened is a whopping $650, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry. Okay, okay. Maybe I'll stick to the green stuff.

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