The White Diet: Foods You Can and Cannot Eat After Teeth Whitening
If it can stain a white t-shirt, it can stain your teeth.
This useful piece of advice should help guide your eating and drinking decisions over the next 48 hours. As multiple studies and observations show, the food and beverages we consume can have a significant effect on the colour of our teeth in general.
However, if you’ve just had your teeth whitened, they are at an even higher level of susceptibility to staining. That’s why a white diet is recommended for anyone who has just had the procedure.
But why is this and what foods are the worst offenders?
Understanding Your Teeth
We don’t need to go into great detail, that’s our specialty, but it helps put things into context if you understand the basic structure of a tooth.
The tooth is broken up into three distinct parts: the root, the neck, and the crown. Since teeth whitening only affects the crown, the part of the tooth you can see, we’ll just focus on this section.
- Enamel: This is the top layer of your tooth and thus, the hardest and strongest part.Naturally, the colour can range anywhere from a slight yellow to a more grey white which is why some people can have whiter teeth than others.The main role of your enamel is to protect the inside of your tooth which contains sensitive nerves. If you consume food that is hot, cold, or acidic, the enamel acts as a guard against it and any resulting plaque.
- Dentin: Sitting right below the enamel, dentin covers the entire tooth from the crown to the root and connects to the nerves inside. As a second layer of support, it’s elastic structure helps keep your enamel from fracturing while also connecting to the rest of the tooth.However, dentin is also very susceptible to bacteria and decay which is why it needs to be protected by the enamel and gums. If your enamel is eroded or your gums recede, the layer of dentin becomes exposed.This is why people experience pain and sensitivity to certain foods, drinks, and temperatures. Their layer of protection has thinned out and in some cases disappeared completely meaning the nerves are more likely to be irritated.
So how does teeth whitening work and what does it do to your teeth?
The Short-Term Effects of Teeth Whitening
While you may have heard about possible dangers of teeth whitening, studies show that it is both safe and low-risk if you consult with a professional.
There are a number of different treatments available but if you’ve been recommended to go on a temporary white diet then it will be because of the following reasons:
- Dentin Exposure: Teeth whitening often uses hydrogen peroxide to bleach the stained areas thus making them whiter. This process, however, can temporarily expose the dentin layer causing an increase in the sensitivity of your teeth.As mentioned above, the dentin layer is very susceptible to bacteria and erosion which is why it’s essential to know what foods to avoid after a teeth whitening.
- Gum Irritation: The process can also cause your soft tissue to become irritated which can be uncomfortable. Fortunately, in almost all cases this is a temporary side-effect which will disappear one to three days after the treatment.
A white diet mostly helps reduce staining your teeth during this time but it can also help minimize the level of discomfort you feel in your gums.
What Stains Your Teeth?
The three factors that contribute to darkening your teeth are chromogens, tannins, and acids. These are found in many common foods and can stain the enamel or make it weaker allowing for stains to set in easier.
While it may seem extremely difficult to go without some of the things mentioned below, just remember it’s only for 48 hours after treatment. It’s a small, brief sacrifice that will help ensure you have beautiful white teeth for longer.
The White Diet
Now that you understand why your teeth look and feel the way they do, we can explore the white food list below to see what you can have, and should avoid.
What to Avoid
- Coffee – we understand that this may be a hard one to cut out entirely. If you need some to get through the day, then add milk to help reduce the staining effect. Also, limit the amount you drink to no more than two cups as studies show staining increases the more cups you drink.
- Tea – dark tea is actually worse for your teeth’s colour than coffee. Again, if you can’t fight the craving then follow the same advice as above.
- Wine – red wine’s acidity and dark colours make it a high-risk drink. While white wine can’t stain your teeth itself, the acidity weakens your enamel increasing your vulnerability to other staining foods.
- Fizzy Drinks – acidic and full of colouring, avoid these drinks entirely if possible.
- Fruit Juices – avoid these drinks because of their high acidity.
- Dark condiments – soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, even tomato sauce all carry risks for their colour and acidity.
- Dark Fruits – same as above, try to avoid fruits such as blackberries.
- Curry – if you’ve seen how curry stains your pots and pans just think of what it will do to your teeth. Definitely avoid this food after treatment to be safe.
- Sweets and Chocolate – think of the colour of your tongue after eating some sweets. Your teeth are at risk from staining in the exact same way.
- Tobacco – ‘smokers teeth’ is a common expression for a good reason. We highly recommend avoiding smoking after your procedure so try to use nicotine patches and other products to help you fight the craving.
What You Can Have
- Chicken/Turkey – healthy, light coloured, and acid-free. Chicken or turkey is a great meat to eat in general and especially after treatment.
- Fish – avoid darker fish, but white fish such as albacore are fine.
- Rice – this is a perfect accompaniment for the foods above.
- Pasta – although pasta is fine, just be sure to avoid sauces that are coloured like tomato sauce or green pesto.
- White Cheese – just remember to not include wine with this meal.
- Onion – specifically, white onion. Red onion does contain some colouring so it’s best to avoid it.
- Egg Whites – the yoke, unfortunately, has colour so be sure to remove it when cooking your egg.
- Potatoes – we recommend peeling the skin off and only eating simple white coloured potatoes. Mash potato is also absolutely fine.
- White Bread – ideally you should remove the crust to be on the safe side.
- Bananas – these are a great snack and pose little risk to the colour of your teeth.
- Yoghurt – ensure that you eat white yoghurt as coloured yoghurt can contribute to stains.
- Porridge – feel free to add milk and enjoy a delicious bowl. If you like sugar then to protect your teeth in the 48-hour window we recommend using sweetener instead.
Enjoy Your Smile
When done correctly by professionals, teeth whitening is an amazing transformative process that can boost your confidence for years to come.
The white diet is not too hard to follow and is only necessary for the first 48 hours after your teeth whitening treatment.
Be sure to keep an out our on our offers for any other deals that can help you keep your smile bright.