Everything gets better with a cup of coffee. Who won’t agree to this?
But there is an old myth which says that coffee is bad for your teeth.
Yes, coffee does have hazardous effects on the teeth, just like any other beverage would have. However, there are ways of escaping these dental threats even with a mug of coffee by your side.
Harmful effects of coffee on teeth
How is coffee bad for your teeth?
- Sensitive teeth: Coffee has a low pH making it acidic in nature. Acids present in the coffee attack the enamel layer of the tooth. The enamel breakdown leads to the exposure of the dentinal layer. Exposure of the dentinal layer causes sensitivity. This sensitivity is due to the exposure of nerve endings present in the dentin. That’s why most dentists advise using enamel-strengthening toothpaste to make the enamel more resistant to corrosion and to slow or stop the loss of enamel caused by drinking coffee.
- Tooth decay:
Few studies suggest that coffee has antibacterial effects. However, coffee with various additives like sugar, cream, or artificial sweeteners helps in the growth of bacteria on the teeth.
Also, bacteria proliferate on the weak, acid attacked teeth making the consumption of coffee worrisome.
- Staining: Coffee contains dark pigments like tannins that get deposited on the enamel. Teeth have many pits, fissures, and irregularities on its lingual surface. A high intake of coffee can lead to stain formation on these surfaces. This results in yellow teeth and a dark smile. When in excess, the stains of a coffee drinker resemble stains of a tobacco smoker. Some believe that the addition of cream helps reduce staining. But it is important to note that cream only helps in the bacterial formation and nothing more.
- Tooth grinding: Coffee contains neurostimulators like caffeine and theobromine, which increases anxiety or may complicate anxiety disorders. The rise in stress causes teeth grinding, which leads to sensitivity and tooth damage. Teeth grinding also strains jaw muscles which can cause pain in the jaw and teeth. The temporomandibular joint gets affected, leading to clicking sound and pain.
- Dry mouth and bad breath: Caffeine reduces the flow of saliva, leading to dry mouth and bad breath. Caffeine acts as a diuretic leading to dehydration. Saliva is necessary to moisten the mouth. Saliva neutralizes acids produced by plaque and washes away dead cells and debris from the teeth, tongue, and gums. If these dead cells and debris are not removed then they decompose and cause bad breath.
How to prevent coffee from harming your teeth
There are ways to enjoy a coffee while limiting the adverse effects of the acids and pigments present in it. Here are some ways to minimize the harmful effects of coffee on teeth:
- One should consume coffee without sugar or cream added to it. The intake of black coffee helps reduce the growth of bacteria. The ability of coffee to fight dental infections depends on the presence or absence of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Use a straw while sipping your coffee. The use of a straw helps dodge your teeth, thus avoiding staining. Lesser the contact between coffee and teeth, lower is its side effects.
- Rinse your mouth with water after having a cup of coffee. Water washes away the stains deposited on the teeth.
- Sip in a glass of water to avoid dry mouth and dehydration.
- Brush your teeth after drinking your coffee to prevent the staining of teeth. However, it would be best if you waited for an hour before brushing. Teeth become weak due to the acids present in the coffee. Brushing immediately may cause further weakening of teeth.
- If brushing is not possible, chew some fruits or vegetables like apples and celery.
- Avoid drinking coffee before going to bed. This helps to get better sleep and prevents teeth grinding.
- Maintain good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing of teeth should be done regularly.
- If drinking coffee stains your teeth, then you should visit a dentist for a tooth whitening procedure. The number of dental visits for the teeth whitening procedure depends on the amount of tooth discoloration. This process involves the use of dental bleach. The effect of this treatment lasts for a few years, depending on oral habits.
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Coffee tastes great but is coffee bad for your teeth compared to other drinks? Compared to other drinks, although coffee is not kind to your teeth, it is not worse than other beverages if it is consumed in moderate amount. One or two cups a day, and following a healthy home dental care routine helps contain adverse dental effects of Harmful effects of coffee on teeth.