When it comes to kick-starting the day, like many people, you might rely on a cup of joe. Ever wondered what it does to your teeth? Coffee lovers take note: Your morning routine could affect your dental health.

If it can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth. This rule of thumb is also true about coffee. Coffee contains ingredients called tannins, which are a type of polyphenol that breaks down in water. They are also found in beverages like wine or tea.

Tannins cause color compounds to 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?

Don’t panic if you’re a coffee lover. Sometimes, dentists can get rid of coffee stains during a biannual cleaning. So make sure you schedule regular appointments.

You can also supplement professional cleaning with home remedies. For example, brushing your teeth with baking soda twice a month can further whiten teeth.

You can also reduce coffee stains by using whitening toothpastes and whitening strips on a regular basis. Options include Arm & Hammer AdvanceWhite or Crest 3D Whitening. Only use whitening products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

Along with using whitening toothpaste, talk to your dentist about getting a home whitening tray.

Additionally, consider making the switch from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush, which provides more cleaning power.

Make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes.

Like any drink that isn’t water, coffee can cause bacteria to grow in your mouth which 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 problems, eat food before you drink coffee, and use a tongue scraper and toothbrush after you finish drinking.

If giving up your favorite morning beverage isn’t an option, prevent stains by cutting back and drinking less. Perhaps opt for a single cup of coffee in the mornings, and green tea later in the day.

Avoid creamer and sugar, as these only speed up the growth of discoloring bacteria. Drink your coffee in one sitting instead of small sips throughout the day to prevent bacteria buildup. Additionally, drink a glass of water after finishing your coffee to rinse your mouth and teeth.

If you prefer iced coffee, drink it through a straw to reduce the risk of stains. Lastly, brush your teeth about 30 minutes after drinking coffee, and only after rinsing your mouth with water.

Remember, coffee is acidic. Brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking anything acidic weakens tooth enamel and causes staining.

Eating certain foods might also help remedy stains. Raw fruits and vegetables — like strawberries and lemons — contain natural fibers that clean teeth by breaking down bacteria.

Of course, coffee isn’t the only tooth-staining culprit. To maintain a white smile, beware of other foods and drinks that can leave behind a yellowish hue. These include:

  • red wine
  • berries (blueberries, blackberries, cherries)
  • tomato and tomato sauces
  • colas
  • black tea
  • popsicles
  • hard candy
  • sports drinks

You can still drink coffee and maintain a white, healthy smile.

How do you enjoy coffee and avoid stains? Simply put, drink in moderation. Dentists suggest no more than two cups a day. In addition, don’t neglect regular brushing and visits to your local dental office twice a year.

Drink with a Straw!David Pinsky, DDS, from State of the Art Dental Group says it’s best to drink coffee through a straw. This keeps coffee from touching your teeth, avoiding any chance of unwanted stains.

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