Coffee can lift moods, banish brain fog, and get your day off to a pleasant start. There is research to suggest that moderate amounts of the popular beverage may even be good for your long-term health. Unfortunately, when it comes to your pearly whites, coffee is an absolute menace. While teeth are incredibly resilient, they’re not indestructible. And much like that stubborn coffee ring on your breakfast table, your teeth are equally if not more susceptible to staining, erosion, and general decay thanks to the world’s second most popular drink (excluding water).
Coffee Stains On Your Pearly Whites
The problem with coffee is that it has color. That is to say; it contains dark pigments or melanoidin which results from the roasting process and gives the drink its rich brown color. Your teeth may look like perfectly smooth pearls, but they are quite porous. Tiny pits in the enamel can collect bits of food debris and color pigments which result in visible discoloration. This, of course, applies to many foods and drinks. However, what makes coffee particularly destructive isn’t the pigments, it’s the acidity.
But wait, there’s more.
Acid will not only directly erode the enamel on your teeth, but it also has a number of other direct consequences on your overall oral health. Acidic drinks actually lower the PH level in your mouth, which causes teeth to demineralize. One of the unintended consequences of this demineralization is increased susceptibility to damage from abrasion and acid erosion. Worse, bacteria loves coffee, especially coffee with added sugar. What is one of the by-products of bad, plaque-causing bacteria? You guessed it: it’s more acid! What that means is that sipping acidic coffee allows acid-producing bacteria into your mouth, which in turn increases the amount of enamel-destroying acids your teeth are exposed to. When combined with demineralization, all this acid is simply hell on your teeth.
6 Ways to Drink Coffee Without Wrecking Your Teeth
- Add calcium to counteract the acid. A good way to do this is by adding a little milk. While this won’t reduce coffee staining since the melanoidin pigments haven’t been removed, it will help prevent acid erosion.
- Try cold-brewed beverages instead. By steeping coffee beans in cold water for 24 hours, this brewing process extracts much less of the coffee beans’ natural acidity. Any reduction in acids is always better for your teeth.
- Drink water with your coffee. Try taking a sip of water after every sip of coffee to help rinse away the pigments. This also has the additional benefit of keeping you better hydrated throughout the day - something many Americans may find beneficial.
- Gently brush your teeth after having your coffee. The key operating term here is “gently” since the acidity of the coffee may have already caused some demineralization of the enamel and making it susceptible to toothbrush abrasion. If possible, wait 15 minutes or so to give your teeth some time to re-mineralize.
- Skip the sugar. This piece of advice is pretty straightforward. Skipping the sugar means depriving acid-producing bacteria the fuel needed to flourish, thus reducing overall acid exposure.
- Use a straw. Employing a straw effectively allows the coffee to bypass your teeth entirely and, as a result, minimizes contact with your teeth. Sure, you might think that looks silly, but it’s effective and practical. The next best alternative: kick your caffeine habit.
Are your teeth lacking the natural, bright shine and pearly white look they once had thanks to your coffee habit? Are you looking to restore your smile completely? Contact ArtLab Dental today for a complimentary consultation.