Nothing quite beats a good cup of coffee in the morning. But does drinking coffee on the regular mean that your teeth will be affected after a while? As much as you love your coffee, you probably don’t want to dim the brightness of your smile.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent coffee teeth stains without giving up your bean routine – and we’re about to spill the beans on how. So, do you have a cuppa ready? Let’s dig into how to keep those pearly whites, well… white.
Why Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth?
Coffee contains thousands of compounds, but the ones responsible for giving coffee its dark colour are called tannins. They are also what could create coffee teeth stains, since they can be slightly discolouring.
Now, while the enamel covering your teeth is a strong and compact material, it does have tiny pores. And when you sip your coffee, the tannins can start to stain inside these pores, creating a yellowing effect or eventually, coffee teeth stains.
Coffee is also an acidic drink, and overtime, acids can weaken the enamel and make stained teeth more likely.
But it’s not all bad news. Coffee is less acidic than sodas and juices, for example, so there are worse morning habits out there than a cup of joe. Besides, tannins are found in many other foods and drinks too, such as red wine and black tea, which can actually contain twice as much tannins as coffee.
Research studies have also found that coffee has an antibacterial effect that can actually lead to better oral hygiene, by killing off bad bacteria and preventing gum disease. Not too bad of a tradeoff, huh?
And staining doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, even if you drink multiple cups of coffee per day, it will still take time before you see any discoloration. Exactly how long it takes for coffee to stain your teeth depends on many factors, but the good news is that most of them you can control. And, speaking of…
Can You Prevent Coffee Teeth Stains?
So, how do you avoid yellowed teeth, without losing your java? Here are a few practical tips:
1. Brush or Rinse Your Mouth After Coffee
The less time coffee residue sits on your teeth, the smaller the chance of coffee stains. So, when you’ve finished your cup, give your teeth a quick brush, or if you’re on the go, rinse out your mouth. It only takes a few seconds, but it can make a huge difference for your smile. Mouthwash works well, but so does regular water.
2. Avoid Additives Like Sugar
While a splash of sweetness in your brew can be nice, adding sugar to your coffee can actually make discoloration more likely. This is because sugar breaks down the enamel on your teeth, which increases the chances not only of cavities and various oral diseases, but also of coffee teeth stains.
So, you want to keep your teeth spotless? Consider easing off the sugar and additives in your coffee.
3. Drink From a Straw
This might feel most natural in the summer, when switching to those iced coffees and cold brews. But drinking from a straw is another way to reduce how much coffee gets on your teeth, and preserve those pearly whites.
4. Add a Splash of Milk or Alt Milk
This one’s not for everyone, we know. But there’s a compound in milk called casein, and studies have found that it can bind to the tannins in coffee and reduce the chance of them staining your teeth. Since milk also makes your coffee less acidic, it could be a win-win.
Alternative milks often have high amounts of Calcium to balance the acidity, too, but plant-based milks don’t contain casein so they may be slightly less effective for coffee teeth stains.
5. Look for Low-Acid Beans
Speaking of low-acid coffee, another way to prevent coffee teeth stains is to look for beans that are naturally low-acid. While coffee isn’t a very acidic drink compared to many others, it is still on the acidic side and over time, this can contribute to weaker enamel – which in turn can make discoloration more likely.
Luckily, there are many quality beans out there that naturally have lower acidity levels, which isn’t just kinder on your teeth but on your stomach, too. Choosing darker roasts is another way to ensure your coffee has lower acidity levels.
6. Go for a Decaf
Again, not everyone is willing to give up their caffeine, which is absolutely fine. But since the tannins in coffee mostly come from the caffeine, switching to a decaf or half-caf can be a great way of preventing that smile from dimming. Less tannins – less staining. Easy-peasy.
How to Get Rid of Coffee Teeth Stains
The good news is that coffee teeth stains are not permanent. If you’re an avid coffee drinker, some discoloration over time might be difficult to avoid, but there are easy ways to get rid of it and restore your smile to its original brightness. So, here are a few ways to get rid of those pesky teeth stains:
1. Use Floss and an Electric Toothbrush
Buildup of plaque and tartar makes your teeth much more likely to stain, and the stains harder to get rid of. But your dental health is something you can control. An electric toothbrush cleans your teeth up to five times better than a regular toothbrush, so investing in one might be worth your while, and flossing isn’t just to make your dentist happy. Removing the plaque and bacteria between your teeth will lessen the chances of discoloration, too.
In other words, make sure to take care of your oral hygiene, and you can keep enjoying coffee to your heart’s content, without worrying about yellowing teeth.
2. Regular Dentist Visits
That said, some stains are beyond the skills of an electric toothbrush. Luckily, your dentist can help you with those – they have the tools to get rid of both coffee stains and discoloration, and can do it much faster than you, to boot. So, if you find yourself with coffee teeth stains on the regular, consider a visit to your local dentist.
3. Teeth Whitening Products
If you’re not quite ready to go to the dentist but want to get rid of light coffee stains on your teeth, then home brightening products can go a long way. Picking a whitening toothpaste, or a slightly exfoliating one, for example, could do the trick – or even getting a home whitening kit for your teeth.
An old trick is brushing your teeth with baking soda once a month or so, since baking soda also has a brightening effect.
Conclusion: Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth?
Coffee isn’t dangerous for your teeth – in fact, the antibacterial effects of coffee have been proven to kill off bad bacteria in the mouth and prevent gum disease.
While coffee is an acidic drink, it’s not acidic enough to cause significant damage to your pearly whites, as long as you keep up your oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and visiting the dentist regularly.
That said, coffee can stain your teeth slightly over time, giving them a yellow tint. But you don’t have to give up your coffee to keep a bright smile. There are easy ways to prevent coffee teeth stains, and to get rid of them if you do see any discoloration. This includes rinsing out your mouth once you’ve finished your coffee, cutting down on your sipping time, and investing in a good toothbrush.
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P.S. Is coffee giving you headaches? Find out our best tips on how to beat them here!