Bad news, tea lovers: your favourite hot beverage is staining your teeth. And according to one expert, the drink can discolour your pearly whites even more than coffee can.
We already know what you're thinking: How can a drink made with hot water possibly lead to discolouration? Well, according to dental expert Jordan Kirk, of teeth whitening company White Glo, it has to do with the compounds found in the brew.
"Tooth enamel is naturally porous and can absorb the tannins in tea, leading to unpleasant brown discolouration of your teeth," he explained to The Sun U.K.
Tannins are organic compounds that give the drink its colour and bitter taste. However, tannic acid — a specific form of tannins found in some teas — is what creates plaque on the teeth causing them to yellow.
Coffee stains teeth in a similar way when its dark pigment "becomes embedded in those cracks and ridges" of tooth enamel, Colgate notes on their website.
In addition to tannins, tea also contains the compounds theaflavins, thearubigins and theabrownins, which are known to stain teeth. That means the stronger your tea, the worse it is for your smile, The Sun reports.
Although tea might be bad for your teeth, the upside is that there are health benefits to drinking the hot bevvy. Not only does tea contain antioxidants that can help fight off diseases, but research has shown that it can also reduce the risk of a heart attack. Plus, tea also has a calming effect, which is great for sleep, stress, and digestion.
The easiest way to prevent your teeth from yellowing is to stay away from both coffee and tea. But if you can't, Shoreline Dental Studio in California suggests drinking coffee that is lighter in colour by adding milk or cream, rinsing your mouth after finishing your drink, and flossing daily to help remove plaque.
And, of course, there's also teeth whitening toothpaste that you can try using after each cuppa. However, Colgate notes that teeth stains from coffee and tea can be permanent.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that tannic acid is found in all teas. Tannic acid is only found in certain types of tea.
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