If you’re like most Americans, the day doesn’t quite start until you’ve had your morning coffee. Coffee is a delicious beverage that boosts your energy and may even be good for your heart health, but it can be hard on your smile, leaving your chompers less than pearly white. Beyond the stains it leaves behind, is coffee actually harmful? Could your morning cup of joe be ruining your teeth?
The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. If you’re a coffee drinker, you already know that it is a substance that stains. It will stain your favorite shirt, the upholstery in your car, your best tablecloth, and, yes, your teeth. It stains because it contains plant-based compounds called tannins that leave behind discoloration. The acidity in coffee helps with this staining because acid softens tooth enamel, making it easier for stains to penetrate the teeth. Because the stains seep through the enamel, though, coffee stains are difficult to remove with tooth brushing.
What’s more, as you get older, your tooth enamel begins to change, becoming more vulnerable and susceptible to staining. So, if you have a five cup a day coffee habit, you’re likely to have some noticeable stains after you’ve sustained it for several years. But beyond the yellowing teeth, does coffee do any damage?
There is, of course, the matter of coffee breath. Along with the acids, coffee introduces bacteria into your mouth, and it sticks to your tongue, causing halitosis. Fortunately, this is easily remedied by brushing your teeth after you drink coffee. Then, too, coffee is not alone in bringing bacteria into the environment of your mouth: any drink that isn’t water will do that. Fortunately, your saliva helps counteract the bacteria and allow your enamel to repair itself, but it’s important to brush and floss regularly to prevent cavities. Be aware that the sugar (or syrup) that goes into your coffee is much more damaging to your teeth than the coffee itself.
How can you continue to enjoy your coffee without staining your smile? You can’t, completely, but there are some things you can do to minimize the issue.
- Limit your coffee. Don’t drink coffee all day long, instead sticking to one or two cups of coffee at one time of day.
- Brush your teeth. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste after every cup is best because brushing removes bacteria and fluoride strengthens enamel. Bonus: you’ll lose the coffee breath. It is important to note, however, that you should wait about 30 minutes after your coffee to brush and floss, because immediately after you drink it your enamel will be soft enough to sustain damage from your toothbrush.
- Drink your coffee through a straw. When you use a straw, you can keep most of the coffee away from your teeth, which limits staining.
- Wash your coffee down with water. Water is always a good choice, whether you’re drinking coffee, eating food, or drinking alcoholic beverages. Why? Because water helps to keep the saliva flowing and rinses debris and bacteria away from your mouth.
- See your dentist regularly. Semi-annual cleanings can make a world of difference in the look of your teeth. Beyond just cleaning the teeth, they polish the enamel so that it can do a better job protecting your teeth from stains. Your dentist can also offer teeth whitening treatments to remove discoloration that has already appeared on your teeth.
If you are looking for a dentist to do those semi-annual cleanings and handle all your other dental needs, choose the dentist voted best in New York. At Park 56 Dental Group, we offer pediatric, prosthodontics, endodontics, oral surgery, Invisalign®, emergency, and sedation dentistry, all at the highest level of treatment. We serve the Midtown, Central Park, Upper East Side, Park Avenue, and all surrounding Manhattan and New York areas, with a patient-centered practice that has hours to fit your schedule. Schedule your complimentary consultation today by contacting us online or calling us at (212) 826-2322.
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