Can you imagine spending a single day without drinking coffee? If the answer is ‘no’, you’re quite likely a coffee addict. Whether as a morning routine or nightcap, coffee has become a beverage around which many of us form our daily habits. Besides the danger of developing a caffeine addiction, regular coffee drinkers should also be made aware of the effects of the beverage on their dental health.
Dentists recommend drinking coffee in moderation – no more than two cups a day1 – as taking excessive amounts of the caffeine-infused drink can negatively affect the health and appearance of your teeth.
Let’s look at the most prevalent dental issues that coffee drinkers need to be mindful about:
The general rule that states ‘whatever stains your white shirt will stain your teeth’ can also be applied to coffee. Indeed, the pigments in coffee can penetrate the porous enamel layer on your teeth, leaving yellowish teeth stains that give rise to the expression ‘coffee smile’.
Known as the hardest substance in our body, it is perhaps ironic that our teeth enamel also contains microscopic pits and ridges that allow pigments from dark-coloured beverages, like coffee, to seep in and embed stains. Coffee also contains tannins, a type of polyphenol that causes colour compounds to adhere more readily to teeth.1 These sticky compounds leave a residual hue on your teeth.1
To get rid of coffee stains, there is no replacement for practicing proper home care habits like brushing and flossing. Giving your teeth a proper clean about an hour3 following a coffee drink can reduce the likelihood of coffee stains. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, visiting a dentist every 6 months for a check-and-clean session can help to get rid of surface stains. You can also opt for professional teeth whitening to remove deeply embedded yellowish stains.
Coffee contains acids that can weaken your tooth enamel. When your enamel wears off, your teeth will lose its natural protective layer and become vulnerable to disease and damage.2
One way to prevent coffee-related enamel erosion is to drink the beverage through a straw, so as to avoid direct contact with your teeth. It is also a good idea to rinse your mouth with cool water after drinking the beverage, and brushing about an hour later to remove any lingering stains. Brushing immediately after the intake of acidic substance can render your teeth more vulnerable to damage.3
The infamous ‘coffee breath’ can be caused by several factors. Caffeine not only slows the production of saliva in our mouths, it leaves our tongues parched, which together make our oral cavity a haven for foul-smelling bacteria.4 Milk taken with coffee also produces a pungent dairy smell – which unfortunately, also encourages bacteria growth.4
Heavy coffee drinkers should keep a pack of fresh minty chewing gum handy, regularly practice their home care routines and visit the dentist every 6 months for a thorough clean.
- Fanous, Summer. "What Does Coffee Do to Your Teeth?" Healthline. May 04, 2015. http://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/what-does-coffee-do-to-your-teeth#removal2.
- Ipatenco, Sara. "The Harmful Effects of Caffeine on Teeth." LIVESTRONG.COM. June 03, 2015. http://www.livestrong.com/article/327662-the-harmful-effects-of-caffeine-on-teeth/.
- "The Effects of Coffee on Your Mouth: It Leads to More than Just Stained Teeth." Dentistry, Blue Valley Family.. October 19, 2016. http://bluevalleysmiles.com/effects-coffee/.
- Meister. "How to Avoid Getting Coffee Breath." Serious Eats. October 07, 2013. http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/10/coffee-breath-how-to-avoid-and-fix-bad-breath-from-espresso.html.