From K-Cups and cold brew to macchiatos and Americanos, caffeine fiends are committed to their coffee.
We all know those early morning yawns are silent screams for coffee. But when it comes to teeth, is this popular pick-me-up a Debbie downer?
Does coffee stain your teeth?
The short answer is yes. Coffee contains tannins—an ingredient that breaks down in water, causing coffee’s dark hue to stick to your smile. These clingy color compounds are what triggers your teeth to turn yellow.
Besides staining, coffee can damage your pearly whites. This acidic beverage contains 9 major acids—all of which contribute to that unique taste you love. But what acid gives to coffee’s flavor profile, it takes from tooth enamel. The acid in coffee slowly eats away at your enamel. Though enamel is hard, this outer protective layer is not indestructible. And unfortunately, enamel doesn’t grow back.
But what’s a coffee connoisseur to do? Asking you to forego your daily cup of joe would be like asking to give up your first born. Though it’s true coffee can stain teeth, there are ways to stop stains from spoiling your smile.
Swish and sip water.
Hydration is imperative to your overall and oral health, so why not kill 2 bird with one stone? Like saliva, water keeps your mouth moist while washing away leftover food and drink particles.
Use a straw.
Though it may look silly, straws are saviors for your smile. They minimize beverage contact, acting as a teeth tunnel. If the embarrassment of straw-sipping out of a mug is too much, try a lidded travel cup or opt for iced coffee.
Brush at the right time.
Brushing is a no-brainer, but timing can be tricky. Wait at least 30 minutes (and no longer than an hour) before you brush your teeth, as recommended by the ADA. Brushing too soon can push coffee’s acidic remnants deeper into your enamel. When you wait, your mouth has enough time to return to a proper pH level. This also gives saliva the chance to develop and work its magic—acting as a natural lubricant to wash away particles.
Skip the sugar.
If you’re one of the 38% of coffee drinkers that adds sugar to their cup of joe, try a sugar-free sweetener instead. Bacteria in your mouth feeds off sugar, converting it into cavity-causing acid. Learn more about tooth-friendly sweeteners.
What about coffee’s caffeine cousin? Does tea stain your teeth? Yes, and it stains much worse than coffee. This is because tea has higher levels of both tannins and acids.
Regardless of your beverage choice, remember this rule of thumb: If it can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth. You can still enjoy your daily coffee—just use our tips to lessen yellowing. Happy sipping!