When it comes to kick-starting the day, many of us rely on a cup of joe. But what does it do to your teeth? Coffee lovers take note: Your morning routine might affect your dental health.
If it can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth. This rule of thumb is unfortunately true about coffee. As Victoria Veystman, DDS, of New York City’s Cosmetic Dental Studios explains, coffee contains ingredients called tannins. Tannins are a type of polyphenol that break down in water, and they are also found in beverages like wine or tea. According to Dr. Veystman, tannins cause color compounds to more readily stick to your teeth. When these compounds stick, they can leave an unwanted yellow hue behind.
It only takes one cup of coffee a day to cause stained teeth. How can you avoid tooth discoloration without giving up your favorite morning drink?
Start by avoiding creamer and sugar, dentists say, as these only speed up the growth of discoloring bacteria. Drink your coffee in one sitting to prevent bacteria buildup throughout the day. Lastly, after you’re finished with your morning mug, brush your teeth.
If you’re a coffee lover, there’s no need to panic. Your dentist can usually get rid of coffee stains during your bi-annual cleaning. You can also supplement professional cleaning with a home remedy. John Koutsoyiannis, DDS, founder and cosmetic dentist at Soho Smile, says that brushing your teeth with baking soda twice a month further whitens teeth.
Raw fruits and vegetables, like strawberries and lemons, also contain natural fibers that can help clean your teeth by breaking down bacteria.
Like any drink that isn’t water, coffee helps the bacteria in your mouth to create acids that can lead to tooth and enamel erosion. This can cause your teeth to become thin and brittle. Coffee can also cause bad breath, or halitosis, because it sticks to the tongue. To avoid these coffee problems, eat food before you drink coffee and use a tongue scraper and toothbrush after you finish drinking.
You can still drink coffee and maintain a white, healthy smile. As Dr. Veytsman points out, coffee’s polyphenols can have positive effects. Polyphenols keep teeth strong and healthy. To enjoy coffee and avoid oral damage, drink in moderation. Dentists suggest no more than two cups a day, plus regular brushing and visits to your local dental office.