Can Coffee Harm Your Teeth?: Separating Myth From Fact

The results are in. Canadians drink more coffee than most people in the world. From the long winters to the delicious coffee offered at popular chains, Canadians love nothing more than grabbing their cup of java every morning.

But can coffee harm your teeth? Here are the facts.

Coffee Has Antibacterial Properties (Fact)

We’ll start with the good news first. Coffee was recently discovered to contain antibacterial properties. This is beneficial to your overall health, but especially for your oral health.

Researchers from Brazil grew layers of plaque-causing bacteria on donated baby teeth. They then introduced coffee extract from the Robusta coffee beans. The bacteria died when it came in contact with the coffee extract.

Why does coffee have powerful antimicrobial properties? Researchers believe it’s the polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds found naturally in many plants and foods. They have antioxidant properties, offering many health benefits.

Coffee Causes Enamel Erosion (Fact)

Unfortunately, coffee isn’t fully beneficial for your teeth. Coffee is an acidic drink, which can cause damage to your tooth’s enamel.

Enamel is the outer layer of your teeth that serves as a protective barrier from different environmental factors. When enamel wears down, it not only makes your teeth more sensitive but your teeth are more prone to damage due to trauma and disease.

Does this mean coffee is a no-go? Not exactly. There are many enamel-strengthening kinds of toothpaste available. This toothpaste slows enamel erosion and makes your teeth less susceptible to damage.

Another simple habit is drinking more water, either after you drink coffee or even while you drink coffee. Water neutralizes the acids in your mouth, causing less damage. Eating a piece of cheese after you drink coffee also has the same effect.

Coffee Causes Cavity Formation (Myth)

A common myth is that coffee causes cavities. Coffee doesn’t lead directly to cavity formation; if anything, black coffee protects your teeth from cavities, likely due to the antimicrobial properties we mentioned previously.

However, adding sugar or sugary creamers to your coffee can expedite the cavity formation process.

This is why black coffee is your best option. If you can’t stand black coffee, only use unsweetened milk or creamer. However, adding milk and creamer will reduce the bacteria-killing polyphenols in coffee.

Not properly caring for your teeth can also expedite the cavity-forming process. As stated previously, drinking water with or after coffee will minimize the amount of acid in your mouth. Brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking coffee to avoid damage and staining.

Speaking of which…

Coffee Stains Teeth (Fact)

What is the biggest impact of coffee on your teeth? Staining is one of the biggest concerns. Coffee contains dark pigments called tannins that stick to your teeth. Over time, these pigments yellow your teeth.

To avoid staining, people started adding milk to their coffee. Unfortunately, milk won’t decrease the chances of staining your teeth.

Don’t worry, preventing unattractive teeth stains is easy. Brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking coffee. You can also drink water to wash away these pigments. If this doesn’t help, there are many teeth whitening solutions available.

The frequency you consume coffee also impacts how much you stain your teeth. Most people shouldn’t consume more than two cups of coffee a day.

Coffee Causes Bad Breath (Fact)

Do you love the aftertaste that coffee causes? Well, others around you may not appreciate it. Coffee breath is a very real thing. The coffee flavor sticks to your tongue, causing long-term bad breath. The best way to combat coffee breath is by brushing your teeth 30 minutes after drinking coffee.

Tea Is a Better Alternative (Myth)

While coffee has many benefits, there are many side effects of your teeth and coffee. But what if you still need your caffeine boost first thing in the morning? You may think tea is a better option.

Tea doesn’t contain as much caffeine as coffee. Certain types of tea, such as black tea, offer many health benefits.

In terms of your oral health, does this mean tea is a better alternative than coffee? Not quite. For one, tea stains your teeth more than coffee. In addition, some tea has an excessive amount of sugar, making your teeth even more prone to developing cavities.

How to Drink Coffee and Maintain Great Oral Health

Can coffee harm your teeth? While coffee has many oral health benefits, it also has many downsides. Don’t worry, with a few steps you can enjoy your daily cup of coffee while keeping your mouth healthy.

Use a Straw

Sure, drinking hot coffee through a straw isn’t recommended. But iced coffee is another story.

Pour your hot coffee over ice and drink through a straw. You consume smaller sips at a time. In addition, sipping from a straw causes the liquid to touch the roof of your mouth, preventing the coffee from coming into contact with your teeth.

Brush Your Teeth (Before or After?)

How can brushing affect coffee and your teeth? We mentioned brushing your teeth 30 minutes after drinking coffee. But what if you prefer brushing your teeth before drinking coffee? That’s completely fine and is often recommended. Since coffee is acidic, brushing after drinking coffee can further aggravate your teeth.

Keep in mind, if you prefer brushing before coffee, drink water immediately after drinking coffee. Water will wash away the tannins, preventing staining.

See Your Dentist

Everyone should see a dentist regularly, whether or not you’re a coffee drinker.

Your dentist will do more than clean your teeth. They can identify tooth enamel erosion before it gets bad. You’ll also know if you have any cavities that need to be filled as well as other dental health issues. Your dentist can educate you on dental health and coffee, ensuring you consume coffee the correct way.

Everyone should visit their dentist for a routine checkup and cleaning at least twice a year.

Can Coffee Harm Your Teeth? Yes and No

So, can coffee harm your teeth? Coffee has many benefits but can cause damage without proper care. One of the best courses of action is to see your dentist regularly.

If you’re looking for a dentist in Mississauga, book your appointment today.

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