Protect Your Child’s Teeth From Stains

Now that the winter holidays are over, we can slowly stop eating all the cakes and cookies that seem to go along with the season. But, more problematic holidays are on the horizon. Parents need to be prepared for the impending holidays and the harmful treats and beverages that come with them. Why? Well, though you may not consider your child’s teeth often, they are vital to your child’s development and overall health. During the holidays, such as Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, your child might indulge in the common green or red cupcakes, cookies, fruit punches, etc. All of these items are terrible for your child’s teeth in more ways than one.
In this blog, we will be discussing what beverages and foods are terrible for your child’s teeth, specifically in how they can permanently stain their teeth.

Why Are Teeth Stains Bad?

Teeth stains are bad for your children’s teeth because they degrade your child’s white and healthy teeth. Healthy teeth typically are white and stain-free. One of the best ways dentists determine if a child’s teeth are diminishing in health is by checking the color of their teeth and gums. If a child’s teeth are yellowed, this is a sign that they are either not brushing correctly or staining due to diet is occurring.
Because staining is a big clue in determining your dental health, it is best practice to reduce the amount of staining to you and your child’s teeth.

What Stains Teeth?

One of the biggest questions we have to ask is, “what stains teeth?” Most of the reason that our teeth and gums change color is due to our diet and the quality of our dental care. Brushing and flossing regularly ensure that anything we are eating that could be harmful to our teeth is removed. However, if your diet consists of too many staining agents, even the most active brusher won’t be able to completely prevent staining.

There are three active components that stain teeth:

  • Chromogens
  • Tannins
  • Acids

Chromogens are pigmented chemical compounds that attach to the tooth enamel and can gradually stain your child’s teeth, permanently. Chromogens are typically found in chemistry as a way to manipulate the pigmentation of a substance. For instance, different strains of chromogens can change the color of something to brown or yellowish colors. Your child’s teeth are no different. If your child ingests color-dye, whether from food or beverages, chromogens are introduced to their teeth.

Also known as acidic polyphenols, these are organic plant-based substances that promote staining by piggy-backing off of the staining power of chromogens. Tannins adhere to the attached chromogens and enhance the staining process. Tannins are an organic substance, which means they are naturally occurring in things such as tree bark, plant tissues, and fruits. In fact, food substances such as grapes, have naturally occurring tannins inside them. Tannins are primarily helpful in producing brown, yellow, and even gray coloring to objects, as well as providing a bitter taste to certain drinks, such as wine.

Acids soften and erode the tooth enamel over time. Ingesting large quantities of sugar increase the amount of acid in your child’s mouth at any given time. Acids naturally are in your mouth all the time. No matter how you care for your smile, acids work to maintain the cleanliness of your teeth. However, if there is an influx of acid, this can be problematic. When your child ingests too much sugar, or sucrose, the combination of the substance and their natural oral bacteria treat excess acid.

Beverages That Stain Your Child’s Teeth

There are some obvious beverages that children should not be drinking in excess. For example, sodas are terrible for your child’s health due to both their sugar content and their active chromogens. Dark sodas primarily contain chromogens that stain teeth brown, while fruit-flavored sodas have color-dye that stain teeth as well. No matter if the soda is sugar-free, the carbonation in the soda still is acidic and can damage your child’s teeth.
Cherry or berry juices should also be restricted as much as possible. Fruit juice is typically rich with pigmentation in order to give the drink color. Drinks, such as Kool-Aid and other brands, highly dye their beverages and flavor them with large amounts of sugar. Both the sugar and the chromogens from the food-dye actively work to stain your child’s teeth.

Foods That Stain Your Child’s Teeth

Candy isn’t technically food, but for the sake of simplification, in this blog, it is. Candy that has been artificially dyed should be avoided this upcoming holiday season. During both Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, there are a lot of foods dyed either red or green. It is best to avoid any foods that have been decoratively dyed, in order to reduce the amount of damage to your child’s teeth. Also, most of the candy or bread-based treats available during holiday celebrations are filled with sugar, which can erode your teeth.
You also should try to stay away from fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. All of these types of fruit contain high concentrations of chromogens. Also, citrus fruits are highly acidic, which can increase the amount of acid in your mouth.

How To Prevent or Limit Staining?

You can actually prevent staining in more ways than one; brushing your teeth is helpful, as well as using whitening strips. Though brushing and artificial whitening strips can be useful, there are other, more natural ways to clean and whiten your teeth. For instance, eating certain foods can help whiten your smile and scrap off chromogens from your enamel. Nuts, carrots, cheese, and broccoli can be useful food do not only nourish your child’s body, but clean their teeth.
Water is a primary example of a beverage that can clean your teeth, as well. Though juices and sodas can be tempting (especially for a child), water is the best beverage to drink for your health and your teeth.

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