What That Cup of Joe Does to Your Teeth

When it comes to foods or drinks that can harm our teeth, coffee is often near the top of the list. This is due to a few factors, and most often staining is the main reason. But several other issues make your regular cup dangerous to your teeth. In recent times, a possible benefit has been noticed. Let’s discuss all the ways coffee affects your mouth and ways to protect it from the negative ones.


How Coffee Affects Teeth
Staining comes when coffee gets into the microscopic ridges and pits. The pigments of dark drinks build up in these spots and create a permanent tinge in the layers of enamel. In addition, the acidity of coffee also wears into the enamel, creating weak places and sensitivity. This can even lead to tooth decay if not properly cleaned away.


Coffee is quite acidic, and all acids tend to wear out the enamel in your teeth. Over time, this can ruin not only the appearance of your teeth, but also cause decay.




Caffeine’s Influence on Oral Health
Coffee and caffeine are simultaneously thought of as a jumpstart of energy, which is why most coffee drinkers have their first cup within the first hour of waking. Unfortunately, caffeine can have detrimental effects on the ability to fall asleep, stay hydrated, or reduce stress. Consuming caffeine before sleeping can trigger teeth clenching as you dream, which in turn can lead to jaw pain, TMJ, or fractured teeth. Even the heat and caffeine combined can cause inflammation in your gums, further harboring tartar build-up and decay. Lastly, coffee and it’s caffeine are the main culprits for bad breathe following consumption.


A Surprising New Discovery on How Coffee May Help Your Mouth
Despite all the ways we know coffee is bad for our body, a recent study conducted by professors at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro have developed an alternative possibility. The details of the study proved the possibility that highly caffeinated coffee types are equally high in polyphenol. These micronutrients naturally found in healthy diets are known to prevent degenerative diseases like cardiovascular diseases or cancer. Now, they have also been proven to help eliminate plaque and oral bacteria from the oral cavity. (Source: Worldcoffeepress.com)



Scientific graph of a polyphenol.


The study’s lead Professor Antonio stated, “Dental plaque is a classic complex biofilm and it is the main culprit in tooth decay and gum disease. We are always looking for natural compounds – food and drink, even – that can have a positive impact on dental health.”
Despite these findings, the researchers warn that some major concerns about consuming coffee still exist. Most coffee drinkers add something to it – creamers, sugar, Splenda, artificial flavorings, syrups- and these add-ins counteract the polyphenol benefits they found.


Minimizing Coffee Staining

It may be impossible to stop coffee from damaging or staining your teeth, there are some measures you can take to minimize the worst of it. Aside from giving up coffee completely, you can reduce your overall intake. If you don’t think its possible due to your need for several (or gallons of) cups, consider weaning yourself off. Reduce by a cup per day for a week, then two cups, and so on.



In addition limiting your coffee intake, you can also combat the dehydration and staining by matching water intake with coffee intake. Water can also be swished around your mouth following any coffee intake to reduce acidic environment that leads to decay and staining. Brushing and flossing teeth shortly after drinking coffee can also eliminate the threat to your teeth, as well as increase your oral cavity’s overall health. Using a straw may reduce contact of coffee to your teeth, and reduce your overall coffee intake.


Whitening treatments can also help keep your teeth white and clean. Whether you choose in-home kits or professional cleanings, be sure to discuss your plans with your dentist so they can help you make sure it’s the right treatment for optimum oral health.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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