Summer is made for eating and drinking — fried food, fresh fruit, rosé all day, anything that comes out of an ice cream truck — but what seems like a good idea to eat or drink at the time can prove not to be later on, for your teeth that is. “The summer foods that tend to have the most staining potential are those that bathe your teeth in color,” says Marc Lazare, New York City-based cosmetic and biomimetic dentist. “On the same note, drinks that are rich in color can also have the same staining potential, whether it’s that ‘green’ health drink, a glass of red wine, or a colored sports drink. Beverages such as these can darken your teeth over time and while teeth whitening is a way to reverse the signs of age, you should always brush after ingesting these ‘don’ts’ and rinse well with water or chew sugar-free gum,” he adds.

See below for Lazare’s list of do’s and don’ts to keep your smile sparkling at all times.

Foods That Stain the Most

Jello or Cake Icing: Anything with food dye is a no-no.

Ice Pops and Popsicles: Sucking on blue or red ice pops during the summer heat can be refreshing, but they also subject your teeth to a lot of food dye.

Tomatoes: The acidity in these ripe red fruits will get ya every time.

Beets: Just think about how fast beets can stain anything they come into contact with — including your grill. And since they’re harvested all summer into late fall, you better watch out.

Dark Berries: Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries might be full of antioxidants, but they’re also full of staining potential. Bummer, we know.

Beverages That Stain the Most

Iced Tea: Tea contains tannins, and tannins stick to your teeth. So, nope.

Red Wine and Sangria: We all know red wine is a culprit for stains, and guess what’s usually made with red wine? Exactly.

Brightly Colored or Berry-Centric Shakes and Smoothies: These can also age the look of your teeth by making them darker.

Coffee: Even iced coffee can have staining potential, so try to milk up your coffee whenever possible.

Foods and Beverages That Are in the Safe Zone


Apples: They increase saliva production to help clear away plaque and surface stains.

Strawberries: They contain malic acid, which is a natural teeth whitener.

Veggies: Celery and carrots are just a couple of the veggies that stimulate salivary flow and aid in removing food debris.

Cheese: Hard cheeses help increase the pH level in your mouth, which helps protect your teeth from enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Yogurt: The good bacteria AKA probiotics found in yogurt can actually help decrease your cavity risk.

stain Removal 101

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that any foods that could stain a white T-shirt can stain your teeth, and every day you’re eating and drinking options that will cause your teeth to yellow,” says Suhail Mohiuddin, dentist and co-founder of SmileCycle (a company offering Invisalign services at a more affordable cost).The most important way to keep your smile bright is a consistent whitening routine.”

What to Do:

1. Professional Cleanings: See your dentist every six months. They have tools and polishes specifically designed to remove more coloring than your at-home routine.

2. Electric Toothbrush and Flossing: Invest in an electric toothbrush. They can remove up to five times the amount of staining than a normal manual brush, but not all electric toothbrushes are created equal. One of the top contenders is the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart Electric Toothbrush ($171).

3. In-Office Whitening: Professional teeth whitening inside a dental office uses a strong chemical whitening gel that is placed on the teeth; whitening once a year gives a quick boost to your shade.

4. Custom Whitening Trays: Don’t want to go to the dentist? With personalized whitening trays, you won’t have to. Most of these kits feature a mouth guard that molds to your teeth when heated up in warm water. Best of all, you can scoop them from your drugstore’s dental aisle.


1. Luster Pro Light Dental Whitening System ($44): Want to polish those pearly whites up to six shades in 30 minutes? Totally possible with this whitening system that doesn’t involve any messy trays or strips and gently improves your color without sulfates.

2. Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips ($35): These tiny little whiteners are a cult favorite for a reason — they fit into any clutch or travel cosmetics bag and they whiten in minutes so your teeth can shine bright like a diamond.

3. Cocofloss ($8): Besides being the cutest floss on the market right now — available in yummy flavors like mint, pure strawberries, fresh coconut, and cara cara orange — it’s also one of the best thanks to 500+ fibers infused with purifying coconut oil that is supposed to be “like a loofah for your teeth.” Let’s just say we tried it and that’s exactly what it is.

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