Did you know that over half of Americans who are over the age of 18 drink coffee every morning? If you are one of these millions of people, you know that it is often times the pick me up that you need to get your day started. But have you ever thought about the effects that frequent coffee drinking has on your teeth? Your dentist explains how coffee affects your oral health, leads to discoloration, and what you can do to minimize its effects.
How Does Coffee Affect Your Oral Health?
Coffee has many benefits for your body. However, it also has some not so good effects on your smile, especially if you are drinking it on the regular. Just like any other drink that isn’t water, coffee causes bacteria to grow in the mouth which can eventually lead to tooth and enamel erosion. When your teeth become thin and brittle, they are more vulnerable to temperature sensitivity and damage.
Why Does Coffee Stain Teeth?
Just like red wine and tea, coffee contains an ingredient called “tannin.” This is a type of chemical compound that belongs to a larger group of compounds called polyphenols. Tannins are naturally found in all sorts of edible plants including spices, nuts, fruits, seeds, and legumes. They also contribute to both the color and flavor of food. When this compound builds up on the tooth enamel, you encounter staining on the teeth that is difficult to remove.
In addition to containing tannin, coffee also fuels the bacteria in the mouth which create acid that wears away at the protective enamel. This also results in discoloration. Over many years of drinking coffee, you may begin to notice your teeth having a yellower appearance.
How Do You Prevent Discoloration?
The most obvious way to prevent discoloration from drinking coffee is to reduce your consumption of the beverage. However, if you are unwilling to go without, there are a few things you can do to prevent staining:
- Drink it quickly: This means the liquid will be on your teeth for a shorter period of time.
- Use a straw: Doing so reduces the contact between the liquid and your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth: Swishing water around your mouth afterwards washes away residue.
- Wait to brush: Brushing immediately can damage your softened enamel. Wait at least 30 minutes.
How Can You Reverse Teeth Staining?
If you have staining on your teeth from consuming dark colored beverages or other reasons, you have teeth whitening options to reduce the staining:
- Zoom! Chairside Teeth Whitening: In just one visit, your dentist can lighten your teeth up to ten shades lighter. This process takes about an hour and is done by your dentist using a professional bleaching gel.
- Take-Home Teeth Whitening Kits: If you would prefer to whiten your teeth at home, your dentist can provide you with a take-home kit containing custom-molded mouth trays and a professional grade whitening solution. You will see results in just two weeks!
Next time you have your morning cup of coffee, keep your smile in mind. Taking steps to reduce the effects on your teeth can make a big difference for both your oral health and appearance.
About the Author
Dr. Robert Young provides a wide variety of services, including professional teeth whitening, at his office in Manahawkin, NJ. He graduated at the top of his class from the New Jersey College of Medicine and Dentistry and has a Fellowship with the Academy of General Dentistry and the Academy of Oral Implantology. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Young, visit his website or call (609) 597-1830.