Coffee is a cornerstone of many people’s mornings. However, is coffee bad for your teeth? One of the most common questions people ask their dentists regarding coffee is primarily based on how much coffee they can drink before damaging their teeth.
Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth?
Coffee can be bad for your teeth. It contains tannins, a type of polyphenol that can cause yellow discoloration on your teeth. The acid in coffee can erode the enamel on your teeth over time, making your teeth feel rough and brittle. This makes them more susceptible to cavities and other dental problems like sensitivity.
The more frequently people consume coffee, the greater their risk of dental erosion. People who habitually drink more than four cups of coffee daily have higher rates of erosion than those who consume less than one cup daily. In other words, drinking one cup of black coffee every day probably won’t hurt your teeth too much—though drinking seven cups each morning will cause problems over time.
How Does Coffee Damage Enamel?
More than 2 billion cups are consumed globally every day, and Americans are among the world’s top coffee drinkers. However, coffee has many health benefits and adverse effects on your teeth and gums.
Coffee Has Acidic Properties
Coffee has acidic properties, which can soften enamel over time. If you’re trying to combat cavities, this is bad news because the more acid there is in your mouth, the more likely you’ll get one.
Coffee Contains High Levels of Fluoride
It can also contain high fluoride levels, which can cause enamel erosion and tooth discoloration. A single cup of coffee can strip away a large percentage of the protective layer of the surface of your teeth, and if you’re drinking several cups daily, the damage can add up quickly.
It Can Cause Tooth Decay
Coffee has a high carbohydrate concentration that breaks down into sugar—a process known as fermentation—which causes tooth decay by feeding bacteria in plaque on your teeth’s surface and eventually eroding them away entirely if left untreated by regular brushing and flossing.
How Do I Keep Coffee From Ruining My Teeth?
Coffee is a delicious pick-me-up in the morning. However, it can wreak havoc on your teeth if you don’t care for them. The good news is that some easy ways to avoid coffee staining your teeth.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Avoid consuming too much sugar or dairy products like creamer with your coffee, as they can increase the risk of tooth decay.
Practicing Quality Oral Hygiene
Generally, you should brush after drinking coffee, as this will help prevent stains and bacteria from forming in your mouth, which can lead to bad breath and tooth decay if left untreated.
Drink an Extra Glass of Water After Your Coffee
This is especially important for people who drink highly caffeinated black coffee, which causes a drier mouth and acidity. Drinking water will help keep your mouth hydrated and reduce the risk of cavities by diluting acids in your saliva, which can feed bacteria in the mouth, causing cavities over time.
Use a Straw
Drinking through a straw helps prevent contact between coffee and your tongue and teeth. If you don’t have a straw handy, rinse your mouth with water after drinking coffee.
Choose Teeth Whitening Treatments
Stains caused by coffee can be removed with at-home or professional teeth whitening treatments. These treatments help remove surface stains on teeth without affecting enamel thickness or causing sensitivity.
Other remedies include:
- Drink less coffee to decrease the risk of dental staining and tooth erosion by as much as 50%
- Drink milk to keep coffee tannins from contacting your tooth enamel
- An electric toothbrush will do a better job removing plaque than a manual one
- Crunchy fruits and vegetables will help to keep the acid away from your teeth for longer, reducing damage to the enamel
How Long Does It Take for Coffee to Stain Your Teeth?
Coffee can cause staining after just 30 minutes of exposure. After an hour, the chances of staining are more than 50%. In fact, the darker the roast of your coffee, the more likely it is to stain your teeth. This is because darker roasts contain more chemical compounds responsible for staining.
Are Teeth Coffee Stains Permanent?
Coffee stains are usually temporary. If allowed to settle, they can also be challenging to remove from your teeth. The stain will come off with a thorough cleaning and flossing, though it might take a few days before you notice a difference.
Drinking too much coffee can stain your teeth and make them rough. To keep your teeth from becoming stained and improve their health, use a straw for drinking your coffee, drink less sugar-sweetened coffee, brush your teeth regularly, and use dental treatments for whiter teeth.