After getting my teeth whitened for the first time, I sat sipping water Googling what I could eat. The experts at Beambar told me to try to stick to a white diet, avoid eating potentially staining foods and use a whitening toothpaste—their suggestion was Better & Better ($19). This advice was a good start, but I wanted a more straightforward list of food I should absolutely avoid eating after teeth whitening, so I asked our top doctors.
“Whitening initially dehydrates the teeth. You want to prevent having these tooth-staining agents around while the teeth are rehydrating as they will decrease the effects of the whitening,” explain Cranberry Township, PA cosmetic dentists Robert M. Klaich, DDS and Brian A. Klaich, DDS.
According to Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS, it takes between 48 and 72 hours for the bleached enamel to remineralize. However, he warns, “if there are microcracks in the enamel, the staining from foods may not come out.” If this is the case, it may require composite resin bonding or veneers to correct, says Dr. Goldstein.
Since having to endure more dental work isn’t the goal of teeth whitening, it’s best to avoid foods that pose a risk of staining teeth. New York prosthodontist and founder of GLO Science Jonathan Levine, DMD, recommends avoiding heavily pigmented foods and drinks for one to two days after whitening. “Think about anything that can stain a white shirt. The rationale is that after whitening, the pores of the teeth are still closing,” says dentist and Beambar co-founder Rashi Gupta, DMD.” Here’s a list of all the food and drinks you should avoid after a teeth whitening treatment, according to dentists.
“First and foremost, blueberries, huckleberries and blackberries” are to be avoided, says Dr. Goldstein. These fruits can “easily stain etched enamel, especially after bleaching,” he adds.
Tea and Coffee
However, “if you can’t pause your coffee habit for one or two days, try drinking iced coffee through a straw to minimize contact with the teeth. Then apply GLO Vial whitening gel ($24-$35) immediately after consumption to remove any stains before they set,” suggests Dr. Levine.
Chromogens and Tannins
“Chromogens and tannins can cause foods to stain teeth,” says Dr. Goldstein. Chromogens are compounds with strong pigments that can cling to the enamel. Tannins can attract various things in the mouth and cause them to stick to the enamel.
Although it may be obvious that soda should be put on pause after teeth whitening, you probably thought clear drinks fit within the white diet. Furthermore, seltzer is often used to clean stains on white shirts. Even though it defies the standard rules for what you can and can’t have, seltzer should be avoided after whitening, says Dr. Gupta.
You might know to skip red wine the week of your whitening, but Dr. Goldstein says the restrictions extend beyond just reds. He says both red and white wines should be avoided, but don’t even think about sipping on a dark Cabernet.
Acidic Food and Drinks
Acidic foods such as red sauce, red wine and citrus are ill-advised after teeth whitening. “The acidic beverages can cause more sensitivity, and highly colored foods can lead to staining and less effective results,” says Dr. Gupta.
No sushi with soy sauce for you after your teeth whitening appointment, as Dr. Goldstein says the sauce can stain teeth.
Turmeric is known for its gorgeous golden color. While we love seeing the color in a meal, we don’t generally have the same affinity for our teeth shifting to this shade. Many of the experts advised staying away from turmeric after whitening. Dr. Goldstein notes that this includes curry.
Sorry to say there’s no chocolate allowed in the days following a whitening treatment as the sweet treat’s rich color can stain teeth.
Dr. Maddahi suggests skipping green and red juice. While you’re at it, skip any colored juice for a couple of days.
We know there are health risks involved with smoking, of course. Dr. Klaich notes that this includes graying teeth. He says the habit should be kicked after whitening.