What is a white diet?
A white diet is any combination of food and drink recommended for teeth whitening patients on the basis of minimal pigmentation. The white diet excludes deeply coloured food and drink such as curry, beetroot, and red wine, and also excludes some acidic liquids (e.g. vinegar, pineapple juice) linked to staining through enamel erosion.
How long do I have to eat a white diet after teeth whitening?
Immediately following teeth whitening treatment, adhering to a white diet consisting of plain coloured foods and non-acidic liquids for at least 48 hours can help to maintain results. Sticking to a white diet during the two weeks prior to treatment can also help to minimise any potential build-up of stains on the teeth that could reduce the effectiveness of the whitening treatment.
What foods are white diet friendly?
Food that is recommended as part of the white diet include the following examples:
- Egg whites
- White yoghurt (low-fat to avoid acids)
- Plain colours cereals, oats, and porridge
- Sour cream
- Peeled potatoes
- Cream of mushroom soup
- Sushi made with plain fish
- Bagels with cream cheese
- Sandwich or grilled cheese using white cheese and white bread
- Boiled white rice
- Plain chicken or turkey
- Boiled pasta with a low fat white sauce
- Any type of white fish (e.g. cod, haddock)
- White cheese (e.g. goat’s cheese, ricotta)
- Rice pudding
- Vanilla pudding
- Whipped cream
- White chocolate
Water is the recommended drink as part of the white diet during the 48 hours following teeth whitening treatment. However, other beverages with a low risk of staining include sparkling water, skimmed milk, tonic water, and gin. Using a straw can also help to reduce the contact between any beverages and the surface of the teeth.
What foods are NOT white diet friendly?
Food and drink that are not recommended as part of the white diet include the following:
- Dark drinks such as tea, coffee, and red wine – Although tooth enamel feels smooth, the surface of the teeth has many imperfections and ‘pits’ that can trap pigmentation from dark coloured drinks.
- Fruit juices and fizzy drinks – even if they appear to be ‘clear’ – Fruit juices and fizzy drinks are high in acid – even clear fruit drinks and clear fizzy drinks can erode tooth enamel, creating a rougher surface that is more susceptible to staining.
- Condiments with a deep colouration will cause teeth staining – Dark condiments with a deep colouration that will lead to teeth staining include soy sauce, brown sauce, BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar.
- Jellied sweets, hard boiled sweets, and dark chocolate will stain the teeth – The staining effects of the pigmentation found in coloured sweets and dark chocolate can be seen on the fingers, lips, and tongue – the teeth are equally as susceptible.
- Colour rich foods such as curry, sweet and sour dishes, and beetroot – The pigmentation found in these foods has a clear staining effect on the pots, pans, and dishes used to prepare and serve the dish – the teeth are equally in danger of staining.
Smokers are also advised to avoid smoking for at least 48 hours as part of the white diet following teeth whitening treatment. Tobacco can leave a yellowish stain on the teeth that is difficult to remove. Nicotine patches and other over the counter products are available to assist smokers in avoiding cigarettes during this recommended 48 hour period.
Teeth stains – what causes staining?
As a general guide, any food or beverage that has the ability to stain clothes also has the ability to stain teeth. Substances that cause staining are referred to as ‘chromogens’ (meaning ‘colour generating’). This means that although the substance may be clear in appearance, there is a high likelihood of other pigments attaching to the chromogen on the teeth, resulting in staining. The white diet aims to avoid any chromogenic substance (e.g. tannin found in tea).