Are you part of the 54% of Americans who drink coffee every day? If so, you’re probably pretty attached to your morning cup of joe. Besides being warm and tasty, coffee gives many people that caffeine boost they just can’t kick start their morning without. Many people continue to sip coffee throughout the day, leading to a habit that may not be so great for your teeth.
How does coffee affect your beautiful smile?
Coffee Stains Your Teeth
Coffee can stain your teeth significantly, especially if you’re an all-day sipper. Although your enamel is tough and made to mostly resist stains, it’s not wholly resistant to strong beverages like coffee that can stain enamel since enamel is porous. Drinking coffee over time, especially with prolonged exposure, will stain your teeth. The discoloration could be even or uneven, but either way, the unsightly coffee stains aren’t pleasant.
Acidity Can Cause Weakened Enamel
Coffee also happens to be one of the most acidic beverages and can alter the bacteria make-up in your mouth. A mouth with a highly acidic pH is very damaging and can actually lead to weakened enamel or loss of tooth enamel. When acidic foods or beverages are left to sit on the teeth, the bacteria and acids they create can erode your enamel. Over time, this can lead to hypersensitivity to hot and cold foods and could even lead to tooth decay.
Coffee Can Cause Dry Mouth
Many people experience bad breath caused by coffee. Since coffee is loaded with caffeine (yes, even decaf contains around 50% of the caffeine in a regular cup of coffee), it dehydrates you. If you’re not sipping water along with your coffee, or use coffee drinks throughout the day to hydrate instead of water, you’re depriving your body of the hydration it needs, especially your smile. A dry mouth can increase the bad bacteria that contribute to tooth decay and lead to bad breath.
Are You Adding Sugar?
If you’re one of those people who adds sugar or cream to their coffee, you could be increasing your risk for oral health problems along with the actual coffee. Sipping sugary beverages can lead to unhealthy bacteria and plaque formation. Over time, you’re exposing your mouth to bad bacteria that could cause problems at your next dentist visit. Milk and cream are also largely made up of lactose, which is a form of sugar. While milk contains some beneficial nutrients, this beverage can increase the acid on your enamel surfaces!
How to Still Enjoy Coffee
You don’t have to give up coffee to keep your smile healthy! Here are some tips to protect your teeth and gums while drinking your favorite beverage:
- Don’t sip all day. Have your daily cup (or cups) of coffee during a designated time and refrain from sipping coffee all day. This will minimize your mouth’s exposure to coffee and reduce staining and enamel erosion from prolonged exposure to sugar and acidity.
- Use a straw. If you’re a fan of iced coffees, using a straw will help the coffee to effectively bypass your teeth and limit any damage.
- Drink other fluids. Don’t rely on coffee as part of your fluid intake. It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your mouth hydrated. Saliva protects your teeth and helps to balance the good and bad bacteria, leading to fresher breath and healthier teeth and gums!
- Cut back on sugar. If you’re in the habit of adding teaspoon after teaspoon of sugar to your coffee, try to reduce the amount so that it doesn’t affect your smile as much. Even a teaspoon or two less can make a big difference! Try adding other flavorful things to your coffee such as coconut or hazelnut oil, which both contain beneficial healthy fats.
- Brush or rinse afterward. Gently brush your teeth or rinse with water after drinking coffee to help minimize staining and reduce the chances that you’ll have bad breath later on.
- Visit your dentist. Your Asheville dentist can check your teeth to ensure you’re not setting yourself up for problems from drinking coffee later on.
Coffee is a great beverage that people all over the world enjoy every day. However, coffee isn’t the healthiest beverage for your smile. Remember to enjoy coffee in moderation and follow these tips for keeping your smile healthy as a coffee drinker!