We all love (well, most of us!) that morning cup of coffee. Some of us have it black, and some of us have it with milk or cream and sugar. Well, it turns out, the effect of coffee on our teeth is primarily related to the way we drink our coffee. So, how can coffee affect our teeth?
Staining Our Teeth?
Yes! Staining occurs from the pigment in the foods and drinks we consume. Coffee, on its own, has a very dark pigment and therefore contributes mainly to staining on tooth surfaces. If you add milk or cream to your coffee, the pigment is not as dark, but it can still contribute to staining. Getting stained teeth from coffee has to do with your genetics, saliva and the type of bacteria in your mouth.
Yes! Because coffee has an acidic PH level, it can contribute to tooth erosion. It is possible that over time, tooth erosion can occur. Also, coffee has a diuretic effect, meaning it contributes to fluid loss, which can cause a dry mouth. Have a glass of water right after your coffee, to rinse out the coffee from your mouth as well as replenish fluid.
Halitosis? (Bad breath)
Yes! Coffee consumption can lead to bad breath because it gets trapped in the rough surface of the tongue and because it dries out your mouth.
Cavities or Tooth Decay?
It depends. Coffee on its own is not a precursor for cavities, but when milk/cream/sugar is added to coffee, the sugars can lead to cavities. Frequency and exposure time are more of a risk factor than quantity, so the slower you drink your coffee, the more of a risk for cavities.
As always, make sure you are brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once. See your dental hygienist regularly for cleanings and your dentist for check-up exams. In addition, drink a glass of water after you have your coffee, to rinse the coffee/sugar from your mouth. Also, consider reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee. Even milk and cream have natural sugars that can lead to cavities.