Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth? Separating Myth from Fact
Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth? Separating Myth from Fact
Is coffee bad for your teeth? Does it do more than stain them? Find out as we separate the myths from the facts when it comes to coffee and your teeth.
Coffee may be the nectar of the gods, but it is also the enemy of a white smile.
Look at it. Coffee looks like it will stain your teeth. It's black, acidic, and so necessary for a Monday morning.
You know that coffee drinkers battle discoloration, but you might also wonder, is coffee bad for your teeth? The answer is both yes and no
Here's what all coffee lovers — whether they order americanos or Frappuccinos — need to know about their favorite drinks.
Coffee and You: A Love/Hate Relationship
Coffee stains are a part of life as a coffee drinker. It's probably ruined your favorite shirt, colored a tablecloth, and shown up on your teeth. But life without it looks grim, so we consider the stains a trade-off.
But why does coffee do so much harm? Is it just because of its deep color?
Coffee stains your teeth thanks to a class of molecules called tannins.
Tannins are plant-based compounds that make it easier for the color compounds found in coffee to stick to your teeth. You can brush your teeth or drink water to remove most of the tannins, but they also leave behind slight discoloration.
A few cups a day over a few years leaves its mark. However, the tannins also get some help from the acidity of coffee.
Acid softens your tooth enamel, which makes it easier for stains to penetrate through to your teeth. Seeping through your enamel also allows the stain to set and makes it hard to remove with brushing.
Your tooth enamel changes with age. As a result, long-term habits, such as drinking five cups of coffee a day, begin to become more visible as you grow older.
Altogether, it's the perfect storm for stained or yellowing teeth.
We all know that coffee leaves stains, but is there truth to the rumor that it causes further damage?
Beyond the Yellow: Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth?
Lots of coffee leads to yellow-ish teeth, but is that the only thing that's bad for your smile?
Not quite, but this beverage isn't uniquely bad for your teeth.
Most foods and beverages promote bacteria growth. It might sound scary, but your body actually takes care of most of the counteractive measures itself. Your saliva has minerals that help your enamel repair itself, but you still need help from water and fluoride.
At the same time, if you don't brush and floss regularly, these bacteria damage your enamel and the underlying tooth. Left too long, your teeth may then become thin and break.
Weak teeth are also more susceptible to cavities, decay, and increased sensitivity.
Do you prefer your coffee with three pumps of syrup and a whole lot of sugar? You'll have more problems than the Americano or flat white enthusiast.
More sugar leads to more bacteria, which again, produces acids that damage your teeth. Sugar increases the risk of tooth decay, even in patients who brush regularly.
Should I Switch to Tea?
Placing all the smile sadness blame on coffee is unfair when it is tea that's actually the most potent of the two drinks.
Tea stains are far worse than coffee. It doesn't matter if you buy it iced or brewed hot. Well, iced tea tends to have more sugar, so it does matter for your enamel health.
As with coffee, the tea stains on your teeth depend on the frequency with which you consume it and the strength of your enamel.
How to Remove Coffee Stains from Your Teeth
Dentists say the best way to stop stains is to prevent them. Stick to one or two cups of coffee (or tea) a day and brush and floss regularly.
For most of us, prevention is too little too late. Plus, living without coffee seems a bit unnecessary.
You don't have to give up coffee to get rid of coffee stains. Instead, follow these healthy habits to protect your smile:
Brush after Coffee
Whether you're having your morning cup at home, on the go, or as a pick-me-up at work, do your best to brush after every cup.
Brushing gets rid of the bacteria that can cause stains. The fluoride also strengthens your enamel, which protects your teeth even further.
Plus, you'll get rid of coffee breath, which is another side effect of this liquid gold.
Use a Straw
Because tannins help the pigments stick to your teeth, you can bypass some of the effects by using a straw.
Straws send your coffee to the roof of your mouth rather than crashing straight into your teeth. The exposure still exists but to a lesser extent.
If you can't get to a bathroom to brush, rinse your mouth out with water after you finish your cup.
Remember that your saliva works together with water to counteract some of the effects of the bacteria. It doesn't replace brushing, but it's far better than leaving the bacteria to sit.
Get Regular Cleanings
Are you getting your semi-annual cleanings? These become even more important as you age and your tooth enamel changes.
Cleanings don't just give your teeth a good scrub. They also smooth your enamel to reassure its role as a barrier between your teeth and the world. Polished teeth prevent more stains from occurring.
Remember, coffee isn't the only thing that stains. You'll also find tannins in berries, soft drinks, and red wine.
Choose Teeth Whitening Treatments
Teeth whitening treatments shouldn't be your go-to method of finding a whiter smile. Brushing, regular cleaning, and keeping hydrated will do most of the work for you.
The best way to battle stains is to prevent them in the first place.
However, teeth whitening is invaluable when those stains do appear and set in. It's also an excellent way to whiten your teeth in time for your job interview, wedding, or a family photo session.
Keep Your Coffee, but Visit the Dentist
Is coffee bad for your teeth? It will stain them, but it's not inherently worse for your smile than other drinks. In reality, it does less damage than black tea.
Protect your smile by brushing, drinking plenty of water, and never skipping your dental checkup. And if you're still unhappy with the brightness of your teeth, book an appointment for teeth whitening in Tonawanda.
Are you happy with the state of your smile? Get in touch today to schedule your appointment!