The surprising thing that can whiten your teeth


For many of us, a perfect cuppa isn’t complete without a dash of milk.

If you fall in that category, you may be pretty pleased to hear a study has found that adding milk to your tea doesn’t just impact the flavour – it can actually stop your teeth from becoming stained. 

According to researchers, milk is even more effective than whitening toothpaste at keeping stains at bay. 

“Tea is the second most consumed drink in the world, and the way it’s processed affects how teeth are stained,” said Dr Ava Chow from the University of Alberta’s School of Dentistry.

“The more the tea is processed or oxidised, the higher its staining properties are… but we’ve found that the addition of milk to tea reduces the tea’s ability to stain teeth,” she said.

Without getting too science-y, here’s why:

Tea contains tannins – water-soluble compounds that cause the bitter flavour – which are dark in colour and can stain teeth.

But Dr Chow found that casein, the main protein in milk, binds to the tannins in tea and prevents staining. 

Pretty cool, huh?!

As part of the study (which was published in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene), Dr Chow used human teeth that had been extracted.

She analysed and recorded the colour of each one, before putting them through a rigorous ‘staining process’.

This involved putting the teeth into either a solution of tea, or a solution of tea with milk for 24 hours at 37°C.

After 24 hours, she recorded the colour of the teeth again.

“The magnitude of the colour change observed in our experiments is comparable to the colour change seen by vital bleaching products and more effective than whitening toothpastes,” she said.


I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve just vowed to continue to add milk to my tea till the end of my days.

Do you add milk to your tea? Are you concerned about your teeth getting stained?

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