NEW YORK, March 24 (UPI) -- Some surprising foods such as steak, cheese and dark chocolate whiten teeth, but sauces, juice and curry can stain teeth, a dentist advises.
Marc Liechtung, a member of the International Academy for Dental and Facial Aesthetics and principal in New York-based Manhattan Dental Arts, says blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries and other berries are healthy, but can stain teeth.
"So, if you’re crazy for berries, be sure to rinse out your mouth thoroughly with water after each indulgence," Liechtung says in a statement. "Although most berries stain, the strawberry is the exception. Mixed with a bit of baking soda and brushed onto the teeth, this makes teeth-whitening a tasty event that can be done weekly."
Red wine stains, but white wine and colas are so highly acidic they etch grooves in the teeth. Beets, which can stain clothes and skin as well as teeth; soy sauce and tomato sauce; grape, pomegranate and cranberry juice are highly pigmented and can cause staining.
Other foods that stain teeth include: pickles and ketchup, colored candy, curry and balsamic vinegar.
Dark chocolate whitens teeth, while tannins -- the antioxidants found in cacao -- prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth while also neutralizing the microorganisms that cause bad breath, Liechtung says.
Thanks to high levels of polyphenols, tea battles bacteria and acid, while snacking on cheese raises the mouth's pH to nearly perfect, freshly-brushed levels; shitake mushrooms help inhibit bacteria from growing in the mouth, apples and pears increase salivary production which flushes away stains over time and onions help reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.
Poppy and sesame seeds help scrub away plaque, while ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory to support healthy mouth tissue.