Surprising Things that Can Stain Your Teeth

Cough syrup poured into a spoon

Proper oral hygiene is essential for maintaining a bright smile, but what you ingest orally can also affect your teeth’s whiteness. If you want to protect your glowing smile, make sure you are aware of these uncommon culprits that can end up leaving lasting stains on your teeth. Some of them might really surprise you!


The deep shade of the skin or flesh of blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, and blackberries can cause tooth staining, whether you eat them whole, drink them as juice, or eat them processed, such as in jellies and jams. When eating berries, try to chew and swallow them quickly (yet safely!) so that they don’t remain in your mouth for too long and are less likely to impart stains on your teeth. Be sure to drink water after eating dark-colored berries to help combat their staining effect.


Though oral medications are intended to make you feel better, the very compounds that assist in healing you can have unfavorable effects on your teeth. Some medications that can leave their mark on teeth include: antihistamines, anti-hypertension medications, and antibiotics like tetracycline.


Lemonade is a dangerous combination of acid and sugar. Because lemons are highly acidic, the acidity of the lemons erodes the enamel on your teeth, allowing bacteria and sugar to stick to them. This can not only lead to plaque and cavities, it can also cause yellowing of your teeth.

Sports Drinks

Brightly colored sports drinks can be as harmful as sugary sodas. If you drink any one color too often, don’t be surprised if that color starts to show up on your teeth.

Cough Syrup

Cough syrup is a leading source of teeth discoloration, especially during cold and flu season. Cough syrup is usually a dark-colored liquid and is often taken just before bed, which means it sits on teeth overnight, increasing its staining potential. Many cough syrups contain alcohol which can result in dry mouth. Without enough lubricating saliva to wash them away, tooth-staining substances can remain on your teeth.   

Tips to Keep Your Smile Bright

You don’t have to give up these dental offenders if you add one or more of these habits to your regular routine:

  •        Brush immediately after eating any potentially staining foods and drinks using toothpaste that contains a whitening agent.
  •        If you can’t brush, swish water around in your mouth after you eat or drink.
  •        Use straws because they pull liquids inside your mouth, so the drink bypasses your teeth.
  •        Schedule regular cleanings at your dentist’s office. Cleanings help smooth the fine cracks in tooth enamel that can trap color from staining foods and liquids.

A healthy diet and good oral hygiene can prevent tooth stains and preserve your spotless smile. Enjoy your favorite foods and drinks, but do so in moderation.

Have you been affected by any of these surprising tooth stainers? If your smile isn’t as white as you’d like it to be, and changing your dental care habits hasn’t helped, schedule an appointment with our office today to discuss your teeth whitening options!

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