If you’ve ever drunk more than a few glasses of red wine; eaten lots of beets, berries or carrot purée; you know that food can stain teeth, as well as the hands used to prepare it and the clothes worn to make or eat it.
Even white wine can stain: It has both acid and some tannins that make teeth susceptible to pigments in other foods.
According to Web MD, tooth stains are caused by:
Acids, which make tooth enamel softer and rougher, so it’s easier for stains to set in.
Chromogens, compounds with strong pigments that cling to tooth enamel.
Tannins, plant-based compounds that make it easier for stains to stick to teeth.
Red wine is a triple threat, with all three.
Tea stains teeth more than coffee: In addition to the acid they both share, tea also contains tannins.
Fortunately, there are remedies.
Brush right away; use a paste with a bit of whitening agent. Keep a toothbrush at work.
Swish water around in your mouth if you can’t brush. It’s not as effective as brushing, but better than nothing.
Use a straw. The liquids are sucked to the roof of your mouth, so bypass your front teeth.
Get your teeth cleaned professionally. A professional cleaning and polishing helps to smooth the fine cracks in tooth enamel where color gets trapped. Regular polishing also helps to reduce the amount of staining.
TO REMOVE FOOD STAINS ON TEETH
Except for the uncommon white beets, beets stain (photo #1 courtesy Burpee, photo #2 courtesy Good Eggs | SF).
TO REMOVE STAINS ON HANDS
Use a salt or sugar scrub. Some people buy them for skin exfoliation, but you can sprinkle coarse salt or sugar on wet hands and rub to exfoliate. You can also use olive oil instead of water. After rubbing, rinse off the scrub off and wash your hands with liquid dish soap. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Clean fingernails with baking soda. Make a rub by adding some lemon juice to the baking soda. Scrub with a nail brush.
Prevent them in the first place. Get a box of plastic food-prep gloves for a song: 500 gloves for $9.
Immediately blot, not rub, with a paper towel. Then use a laundry pre-stain stick or liquid detergent. Wash ASAP in cold water (the sink is fine).
Soak in cold water with chlorine or oxygen bleach if the stain persists.
Launder in cold water if needed.
TO REMOVE STAINS ON FABRIC
Use a fabric-appropriate bleach: Chlorine bleach is preferable if it is safe for the fabric.
Get an adult bib from Dress Tiez. We have two and love them: They’re waterproof and easy to clean.
For red wine and other stains, we’ve had great success with Wine Away spray. It aso removes coffee, blood, ink, fruit punch, sauces, red medicine stains, even pet stains. Try it on anything.
There’s also a pocket size for dining out.