You might have read about the discolouring effects of certain foods: tea, coffee, cherries, curry. What these foods have in common is a substance called tannin. Find out what ‘tannin’ is and how it affects the tooth’s outer appearance.
Understanding the Enamel
To understand what tannins are and how they affect teeth, one must first understand the characteristics of the teeth’s enamel. As the outermost part, the enamel serves as the teeth’s first line of defence. But it can only take so much abuse and will show signs whenever it experiences certain challenges.
The enamel is naturally porous and can absorb substances like sugar, bacteria and tannins. This is why it shows when you have eaten food with heavy pigments or high amounts of tannins because they stick to the small cracks and ridges of the enamel. Frequent instances of this may cause permanent teeth discolouration, so you are advised to consume pigmented food and drinks in moderation and to brush after eating.
What are Tannins?
Tannins are a group of organic compounds that are responsible for giving several food items and drinks their colour and bitterness. Originally, tannins were popularly used in the leather industry to colour animal hides.
Inside the mouth, tannins interact with carbohydrates, proteins and enzymes, sugars and bacterial cell membranes. Because of this, sugars, proteins and bacteria have a high chance of sticking to enamel coated with tannins. On the one hand, this is good since bacteria can stick to tannins before they form a plaque on the teeth. But at the same time, since tannins attract carbohydrates and sugar, they could stick to the teeth’s surface and lead to cavities.
Pigmented foods like wine, cherries, curry and soy sauce have a substance called chromogen which is responsible for the colours. Tannins also react with chromogens and intensify their colour, resulting in teeth discolouration.
Preventing Teeth Discolouration
While it is difficult and not advisable to completely avoid food and drinks with tannins, since tannins are great antioxidants, there are ways to alleviate their effects and reduce the risk of permanent teeth discolouration.
One simple trick is by adding cream or milk to tea and coffee. This weakens the tannins and the dark colour of the drinks. You may also combat the effects of tannins by managing your carbohydrates and sugar intake.
Teeth Whitening Solutions in Townsville
Enjoy the colourful flavours of food without worrying about your teeth’s health and appearance. Casey Dentists offers in-house and DIY teeth whitening services in Townsville.
For those seeking out immediate results, we offer high-quality, single-appointment whitening services. Our hygienists will provide you with the Zoom 3 Advanced Power Whitening systems that only take two hours to complete and whiten teeth up to even shades lighter.
For those who want a convenient, self-administered treatment, Casey Dentists offers safe teeth whitening treatments that patients can use in the comfort of their home.