Is Coffee REALLY Bad For Your Teeth? Answers and More


If you happen to indulge in the occasional cup of coffee, you've likely paused to ponder the repercussions that this tasty treat could have on your mouth. This question might occur even more frequently if you're one of the many people who drink a cup of Joe each morning. While most people can't imagine a world without coffee, this time-old question has been a subject of debate for what seems like millennia; but what actually makes coffee bad for your oral health?

Like all good things, coffee should be drunk in moderation to ascertain your dental and oral health is maintained. But why is coffee such a bad beverage to begin with? Here are some of the top reasons why coffee is bad for your teeth -- and how the proper oral health care routine can shirk your symptoms.

It's acidic in nature

Did you know that coffee is acidic? This means that the acids in coffee can make the climate of your mouth more susceptible to diseases and other oral health issues. Though our teeth feel smooth, the outer layer of enamel is actually made up of little ridges in which the acid in coffee gets stuck. This acid can lead to problems with tooth sensitivity as it wears down the layers of sensitive enamel. It also makes your mouth more susceptible to infections and breaking from traumatic events, like a fall.

Because coffee is so acidic, many oral health care practitioners will recommend drinking water, eating cheese, or brushing with sensitive toothpaste following your morning cup. Water can help wash away this harmful acid, while cheese is a good neutralizer to counteract the harmful effects of acids in the mouth. Just be sure to wait about an hour before brushing your teeth again; your enamel needs to harden again after eating and drinking. If you brush any sooner, you might experience further issues with sensitivity and enamel wear and tear.

It grows bacteria

Like all other foods and beverages, coffee can contribute to the growth of bacteria and plaque in your mouth. In fact, water is the only thing that doesn't contribute to poor oral health. Anything from flavored waters to juices to your morning cup of coffee can promote bacterial growth. While some studies say that coffee is actually adept at killing certain plaque-causing bacteria, adding any sugar, creamer, or syrups to your coffee can exacerbate the deleterious effects of acid in your mouth.

That's why it is always recommended to drink water following your morning cup of coffee. While water can't clear away all the bacteria in your mouth, it can help wash down the worst culprits that want to wreak havoc on your teeth. Drinking water can also prevent harmful surface stains from staking their claim on your teeth.

It stains

Serious coffee drinkers might get a reputation for having a duller smile. When you indulge in dark beverages, you're opening up your teeth to take on the likeness of that color. Anything from coffee to dark wines to tea can promote a lackluster smile if you don't engage in regular oral health care practices. Over time, your teeth may become stained, even if you mute the acid in the beverage with milk.

There's a common misconception that putting milk or cream in your coffee can help prevent staining. After all, the lighter the beverage, the less likely it is to stain, right? Unfortunately, diluting your coffee with other additives will still result in staining over time. After all, these pigments are still present in the coffee, even if you did seem to temper them down.

Sipping all day is bad for your health

Many hard workers will consistently drink coffee throughout the day. Whether it's because they like the taste or the energy, it's common to see folks drinking coffee at all hours of the day.

Unfortunately, drinking coffee over an extended period of time is one of the worst things you can do for your teeth. Drinking coffee consistently will never allow your enamel to harden and protect itself from the onslaught of acid you're sipping. By exposing your teeth to coffee more frequently, you're also ensuring that you don't have time to rinse your mouth with water or brush your teeth. This can compound the harmful effects of coffee, resulting in even worse staining over time.

It's far better to sip a cup of coffee all at once or at specific times during the day. This will give you ample time to rinse your mouth out to avoid the worst symptoms of drinking too much coffee.

It causes bad breath

Again, all foods and beverages are going to result in bad breath without engaging in the proper oral health care routine. However, coffee has a particularly noticeable reputation in regard to its smell. Coffee sticks to the tongue and can result in bad breath for longer periods of time unless the halitosis is fixed. It's recommended that drinking water and even using a tongue scraper is one of the best ways to get rid of coffee breath.

What can I do to protect my teeth?

The best way to beat the harmful side effects of drinking coffee is to engage in proper oral health care habits. This includes visiting your doctor twice per year for a check-up and brushing your teeth regularly (and about an hour after drinking). When only 64% of adults go to the dentist, changing your habits is vital to protect your smile. Flossing is also pivotal in removing coffee bacteria from in between your teeth and below the gum line. Of course, the best way to stop coffee stains is by giving up coffee as a whole.

For some people, however, this isn't an option. If you simply cannot give up coffee, it's also recommended that you drink the beverage through a straw to help keep the liquid away from your teeth. Follow up with a glass of water and be sure to use mouth wash for the cherry on top of a good oral health care routine.

Do you want to learn more about coffee stains? Rely on Aesthetic Family Dental Care to get the oral health care advice you've always wanted.

Drew Rossell