Content reviewed by Dr. Jalal Abouhassan of Whyte Ave Dental Choice.
Many people around the world rely on coffee to jump-start their workday, but they might not realize the effects their daily habit has on their teeth. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your cup — or two — of joe to maintain your oral health. By understanding coffee’s effects on your teeth and how to prevent damage and discoloration, you can make your routine more enjoyable and healthy for years to come.
Coffee Can Stain Your Teeth
Out of all the side effects of regular coffee use, you’re probably most aware of staining. Coffee is known for creating a yellow tint that can be challenging to remove. This staining is due to an ingredient called tannins — a polyphenol that breaks down in water. These tannins — which you’ll also find in drinks like wine and tea — stick to the microscopic bumps and ridges of your tooth enamel, which leaves behind a yellowish hue.
Coffee Causes Bacterial Growth
Even seemingly harmless drinks like coffee, tea and juice will cause bacterial growth in the mouth. When you drink anything other than water, your mouth’s natural bacteria create acids that can eventually wear away your tooth enamel. The result is thin, brittle-feeling teeth. These weaknesses can lead to an array of dental issues over time, including cavities, decay and increased sensitivity.
Coffee Can Dry out Your Mouth
Since coffee is a drink, many people assume it will quench their thirst. However, it actually has the opposite effect. Coffee hinders saliva production in the mouth, which leaves your mouth feeling dry and uncomfortable. Dryness makes it harder for your mouth to keep itself clean, further increasing your chance of cavities and decay.
How to Prevent Coffee From Harming Your Teeth
If you’re currently feeling guilty about your daily coffee run, fear not. You can reduce your risk of tooth yellowing and other types of harm by taking the following steps:
- Drink coffee at specific times of day: Rather than sipping your coffee throughout the day, drink each cup in one sitting to reduce bacteria buildup.
- Sip your drinks through a straw: It might look strange, but sipping your coffee through a straw is one of the best ways to keep your teeth healthy. A straw will help you prevent the coffee from making direct contact with your teeth.
- Brush your teeth after drinking coffee: If possible, brush your teeth a short while after drinking your cup of joe. If not, you can rinse your mouth with water or eat raw fruits like lemons or strawberries to break down bacteria.
- Practice good dental hygiene: As always, brush your teeth twice a day and floss regularly to prevent plaque buildup.
- Visit the dentist regularly: Routine dental visits are essential for proper tooth care. Dentists can remove tartar buildup and polish your teeth, which you won’t be able to do on your own with brushing and flossing.
- Whiten your teeth at home or in-office: If you’re worried about the appearance of coffee stains, you may be able to whiten your teeth using either over-the-counter or dental products. Ask your dentist about their take-home or in-office whitening treatments during your next dental visit.
Schedule Your Dental Visit With Dental Choice
If you want to brighten your smile after coffee use, Dental Choice may be able to help. We offer regular cleanings as well as whitening services at our Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, locations. Schedule an appointment at the location nearest you to learn more.