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Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth?

Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth?

Clark Clark
6 minute read

While coffee helps us rise, it may not necessarily help us shine. Around the world, coffee lovers may not realize their morning coffee could be dampening their otherwise dazzling white smiles. 

It’s no myth that regular intake of coffee stains teeth over time. The somewhat porous nature of tooth enamel makes teeth susceptible to surface stains from foods and drinks with deeper pigments. Thankfully, tooth discoloration can be reversed and prevented. 

Why does coffee stain teeth?

Coffee contains high concentrations of the 3 primary culprits of tooth discoloration – chromogens, tannins, and acid.

Chromogens are pigment-carrying compounds that can easily cling to tooth enamel and discolor over time.

Tannins are antioxidants that give certain beverages a deep color and bitter taste.

Acids can soften enamel, making discoloration easier.

These compounds can triple-team teeth, causing a yellowing or darkening effect.

What causes coffee stains on your teeth? Though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is slightly porous. This means that highly-pigmented substances can stain it over time. Though permeability can be a pitfall of enamel, it is also the very characteristic that makes discoloration impermanent.

Additional drinks and foods that can stain teeth:

  • Black tea
  • Red wine
  • Sugar-laden drinks (sports drinks and sodas)
  • Tomato-based sauces or soups
  • Soy sauce
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Berries (blackberries and blueberries)

Many coffee drinkers drink more than one cup of coffee a day. According to the National Coffee Association, Americans average about 3 cups a day, continually dousing teeth in coffee. This can lead to further discoloration.

How long does it take for coffee to stain your teeth? There’s no definitive timeline of when stains will manifest. The longer you permit coffee or any other pigmented substances to linger on the surface of your teeth, the higher the chance of stains setting in. 

Is coffee bad for oral health?

Though coffee is not necessarily good or badfor oral health, it’s worth knowing its downsides. For instance, caffeine in coffee can slow saliva production, which is the mouth’s most effective natural means of cleaning. This can also lead to bad breath. Drinking water after a cup of joe would help stimulate saliva production once again.

Coffee’s acidity can affect enamel health; however, this is easily remedied by selecting a low acid coffee.

Additionally, the sugar and creamer many of us add can give coffee a bad name when it comes to oral health. Both can contribute to plaque build-up on teeth. And it’s well-known that sugar erodes enamel. Drinking black coffee is typically best.

On the bright side, coffee can prove beneficial for oral health. The American Chemical Society conducted a study that found coffee provides antibacterial properties that may aid in preventing cavity formation. Also, the American Cancer Society conducted a study that linked coffee to a reduced risk of mortality due to some forms of oral cancer.

Does coffee or tea stain your teeth more? Tea tends to stain more than coffee as it contains more tannins.

Getting Rid of Coffee Stains

What is the best way to remove coffee stains from teeth? If the damage is done and teeth have been stained at the extrinsic (outer) and intrinsic (inner) levels, neither is permanent. Whitening treatments can help undo tooth discoloration.

Whitening products, such as over-the-counter whitening strips, are an affordable and accessible option. A more hands-off approach would be scheduling an appointment with a dentist or orthodontist for a professional whitening session.

Note that no matter the teeth whitening treatment, you’ll need to steer clear of deeply colored foods and drinks for a short while. Directly after a whitening treatment, the pores of your enamel will be more open and more susceptible to stains. Wait about 1-3 days before indulging in favorite treats with discoloring agents. 

Will my teeth get whiter if I stop drinking coffee?If you stop drinking coffee, your teeth could possibly regain some of their former whiteness. Just remember that coffee is not the only contributor to discoloration as age, genetics, and other factors can also play a role. 

The best ways to proactively cultivate a brighter smile would be 1) maintaining good oral hygiene and 2) investing in a whitening treatment.

Preventing Coffee Stains

The bad news is that coffee can stain the teeth. The good news is there are preventative measures to protect your pearly whites.

What can I do to avoid coffee stains on my teeth? The best defense is a good offense. Start with the basics:

  • Brush at least twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Visit your dentist for regular cleanings

These simple but effective tasks can help prevent stains.

  • Consider drinking coffee in one sitting to avoid continual exposure to staining elements.
  • Rinse your mouth after coffee consumption. Swish with mouthwash or water, whichever is handy.
  • Use a straw to drink beverages that tend to stain. This will reduce the amount of contact between the beverage and your teeth.
  • Brush with baking soda, which has whitening properties.
  • Brush with hydrogen peroxide, which has bleaching capabilities (be sure to get the ratio right to avoid irritating the gums).
  • Use whitening toothpaste.
  • Invest in an electric toothbrush as it tends to clean more thoroughly.
  • Chew sugar-free gum (preferably with the ADA seal) after coffee consumption.
  • Munch on strawberries, carrots, celery, or cucumbers as these healthy foodscontain natural whitening properties.

Not only will these tasks help prevent tooth discoloration, but they’ll help overall oral hygiene. 

If you want to erase some of the question marks concerning coffee’s effects on dental health, check out these alternative beverages.

Sources

  1. The Importance of Tooth Enamel
  2. NCA releases 2020 National Coffee Data Trends, the "Atlas of American Coffee"
  3. Why Does Coffee Cause Bad Breath? | Stinky Breath | Live Science
  4. Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth - American Dental Association
  5. Coffee May Help Prevent Cavities -- ScienceDaily
  6. Caffeinated Coffee Linked to Lower Risk of Some Oral Cancers
  7. Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth - American Dental Association
  8. Foods That Whiten Teeth Naturally, Home Remedies Work

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