Most of us love our morning cup of coffee. It can be consumed black or with milk, cream or sugar. It can be consumed hot or cold, with or without a straw. But, can that coffee be harming our teeth without us knowing it? What kind of effects is coffee having on your teeth that you might not be aware of?
Coffee most certainly can stain and discolour our teeth over time. How much staining you may be susceptible to greatly depends on how you drink your coffee and how frequently you are drinking the coffee. Black coffee, in particular, can lead to external staining of tooth surfaces. Coffee has a very dark pigment, which can build up on all tooth surfaces. If you add milk or cream to your coffee, the pigment is not as dark, but it can still contribute to staining. Some people are unfortunately more susceptible to staining due to genetics, saliva and type of oral bacteria.
Coffee consumption can lead to bad breath, called halitosis, for a couple of reasons. Coffee malodours get trapped in our tongues’ crevices, which can lead to a build-up of bacteria. Also, coffee is a diuretic and can dry out the mouth by decreasing the salivary production, which also leads to bad breath.
Coffee consumption can lead to tooth erosion because it has an acidic pH level. The more frequently coffee is consumed, the more at risk you may be for tooth erosion. Try to have a glass of water during or after consuming coffee to rinse the coffee from your mouth. This will also reduce bad breath and replenish fluid loss.
Coffee on its own does not lead to tooth decay, but when milk/cream/sugar is added to the coffee (which all contain sugar), the sugars can cause cavities. The frequency in which you drink coffee is more of a risk factor than the amount of coffee you drink. In essence, if you drink a large sugary coffee all at once, you are less at risk for cavities than if you sip the same amount throughout the day.
Did you know that if you use a straw while drinking coffee, most of the coffee passes by your teeth, and you can reduce your risk of staining, bad breath, tooth erosion AND cavities? A straw works by directing the liquid past your teeth and directly down your throat. Easy enough with cold coffee, but this might take some getting used to with hot coffee! Remember, always use a recyclable straw (never plastic) if you choose to use a straw with your coffee.
The most important thing you can do to keep your teeth healthy is to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, and see your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for check-up exams and cleanings. Remember to consume coffee in moderation and to drink a glass of water during or after coffee consumption. If you have any questions about the effect of coffee on oral health, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.