GQ Lab
Animation: Tibor Kárpáti

How To Maintain A Winning Smile

By Adam Hurly
12 March 2019
GQ Lab: The 10 biggest risks to your pearly whites (and how to avoid staining) by dentist to the stars, Dr Michael Apa

When it comes to keeping your gnashers in good shape, maintenance is the key. But along with your usual six-month check-up, there are things you can do daily to make sure you’re on the track. The bad news is that some of your favourite foods could be causing a problem. The good news is that there’s something you can do about that. Check out Dr Apa’s list of worst offenders… and how you can keep them on your shopping list without losing the zing from your smile.

Watch out for these worst offenders...

1.Balsamic vinegar
“Dark pigments and sticky consistency will leave stains in their wake,” says Apa.

2. Soy sauce
“Same deal.”

3. Fruit Juices
“Fruit juice is slightly acidic, causing the teeth to become more susceptible to staining,” he explains. “Fruit juices also contain sugar which can feed bacteria, causing cavities while staining your teeth.”

4. Tomato sauce
“This contains a highly pigmented colour and is acidic as well. Acidic foods can weaken the enamel layer of your tooth which can make it more porous and in turn more susceptible to stains.”

5. Pigmented fruit
“There are a variety of fruits that have dark pigments that can easily stain your teeth. Blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranates have purple and red pigments that can leave residue on your teeth.”

6. Beetroot
“They have a particularly strong pigment and will stain your teeth red or orange.”

7. Soft drinks
“The acidic nature of soda can cause your teeth to become more porous and more susceptible to future staining. Dark ones like cola can further discolourations to your teeth.”

8. Curry
“The spice commonly found in a variety of foods leaves your teeth with a yellow or orange pigmentation.”

9. Smoking or hookah
“These contain nicotine and tar, both of which can lead to yellow and brown stains on your teeth. Not to mention, they can cause bone loss, loose teeth, receding gums and a plethora of other health problems.”

10. Coffee or tea
“Most people depend on these drinks to get their caffeine fix, but they have tannins which to can leave a grey or brown discolouration on your teeth if consumed often.”

Here's how to minimise staining...

1. Use a straw when possible
Apa advises that you drink through a straw. “Sipping offensive drinks through a straw aimed towards the back of the mouth will limit the amount of time it comes into contact with your enamel, lessening the dulling and staining effects,” he says.

2. Brush often
Secondly, and quite obviously, brush your teeth at least twice a day – and as soon as possible after consuming any offensive products.

3. Skip natural toothpastes
Apa says to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride or hydroxyapatite. “These will work to re-mineralise the tooth and make it stronger,” he says. “If you have sensitive teeth, look for a toothpaste with calcium hydroxide which doesn’t have the same mineral results as hydroxyapatite.”

How do you know where to look? Skip the natural aisle. Apa discourages the use of natural pastes.

“They don't have anything to re-mineralise teeth.” Then, for extra assurance, he advises his patients to alternate days using a whitening toothpaste, in place of your regular non-abrasive one. “Whitening toothpastes have silica in them that help scrub away stains that may build up between your regular cleanings.”

4. Floss daily
“You really can't floss enough,” Apa says. “Make it a habit.”

5. Use an alcohol-free mouth wash
“Alcohol dries out your mouth, limiting salivary production and, if overused, can dry out the gums and can stunt nourishment, causing recession.”

6. Stay hydrated
“It’s important when consuming any pigmented food or drink to consume plenty of water,” Apa says. Drinking water neutralises the pH of the oral cavity and helps to clear the food or drink out of the mouth.”

Join GQ Middle East in conversation with Dr Michael Apa at Gate Avenue, DIFC on Tuesday, March 12 (5:30-6:10pm). GQ Lab in association with Gate Avenue, DIFC, March 12-14