Drinking tea might stain your teeth more than coffee, expert claims

While it’s a well-known fact that coffee stains teeth over time, a dentist is now claiming that tea can have even more of a detrimental effect on the colour of your enamel.

According to Jordan Kirk, an expert for dental brand White Glo, various types of tea – herbal, fermented, black, fruit etc – can cause discolouration of the teeth.

"Tooth enamel is naturally porous and can absorb the tannins in tea, leading to unpleasant brown discolouration of your teeth," he told the Independent.

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The microscopic pits and ridges in enamel can hold particles of food and drink, meaning pigments from dark-coloured drinks such as coffee and tea can become embedded in the cracks and cause teeth yellowing.

Tea contains several compounds that have been known to stain teeth including theaflavins, thearubigins and theabrownins which are more damaging the stronger the brew.

The publication reports that theaflavins and thearubigins are components of tannin, a type of polyphenol than comes from plants which is also used in the process of tanning leather, and can create plaque in your teeth. In turn, the build-up of plaque can lead to pearly whites turning a faint yellow colour.


Unfortunately for green-tea lovers, the healthy brew contains the highest amount of tannins, according to Victor R Preedy, author of Tea in Health and Disease Prevention.

While large quantities of tannic acid can cause stomach irritation, liver damage and reduce the amount of iron that's absorbed into the body, experts have pointed out that teas such as green and black contain tannins, not tannic acid.

However, some tannins are antioxidants and reportedly help reduce risk of heart disease and cancer and fight cavities.

The news comes weeks after an investigation by scientists from King's College London found that sipping on acidic drinks such as fruit teas and flavoured water can wear away teeth and damage the enamel. Continuous sipping or holding these drinks in the mouth before swallowing can also increase the risk of tooth erosion.

With approximately 165 million cups of tea consumed in the UK on a daily basis, it’s unlikely us Brits are going to be putting down the teapot anytime soon. But that doesn't mean our teeth are a lost cause.

You can aid prevention of teeth discolouration by brushing your teeth for the advised two minutes twice a day, dedicating 30 seconds at a time for each quarter of the mouth. Regular rinsing, using an electric toothbrush, gentle scrubbing and professional teeth cleaning can also help keep yellow teeth at bay.

Just don't get between a Brit and their tea, okay