Are you a regular coffee fiend? Do you rely on that daily cup (or pot) of Joe to fuel you throughout all of your tasks and tribulations? As amazing and refreshing as coffee can be, it’s important to be mindful of the negative effect it can have on your oral health. In celebration of National Coffee Day, here are some tips from your dentist for enjoying your favorite beverage while keeping your smile healthy and bright.
How Coffee Can Hurt Your Smile
There’s no doubt that coffee can provide you with the energized jolt you need to kick off your morning or wrap up your afternoon—but it comes with risks that endanger your smile! Avid coffee drinkers should be mindful of the following potential oral health issues caused by drinking coffee:
- Stained teeth – Since your tooth enamel is covered in microscopic ridges and pits, the particles from coffee can actually embed themselves in it. And since coffee is notorious for containing staining agents, this spells bad news for your pearly whites.
- Dry mouth/bad breath – Drinking coffee actually inhibits your mouth’s production of saliva, which can lead to dry mouth. And a dry mouth is an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, which can lead to bad breath accompanied by a bitter taste.
- Tooth decay & cavities – The high acidity of coffee, often combined with the high amounts of sugar from additives, will encourage cavity-causing bacteria to run rampant inside your mouth.
4 Tips for Enjoying Coffee the Healthy Way
Fortunately, there are several ways to healthily enjoy coffee, and most of them involve simply making minor lifestyle adjustments. Consider the four following tips:
- Drink coffee in moderation – As with most things in life, you should enjoy coffee in moderation; one cup in the morning, and one additional cup later in the day (if you need it) is a good limit to self-impose. This will help to keep the bacteria inside your mouth under control.
- Finish your coffee quickly – You shouldn’t sip your coffee throughout the day; this only increases your teeth’s exposure to the drink! Aim to finish drinking your coffee within 20 minutes or so.
- Eat mouth-healthy foods – There are certain foods that can effectively offset some of the negative effects of drinking coffee. Raw fruits and vegetables (apples, carrots, celery, and more) that have natural fiber and plenty of vitamins and minerals are excellent options that actively minimize bacterial growth inside your mouth.
- Keep your teeth clean around-the-clock – Perhaps the most important thing you can do to offset the negative effects of drinking coffee is practicing good oral hygiene and keeping your mouth as clean as possible. Brush your teeth twice a day, and don’t neglect flossing. Also be sure to drink plenty of water—having a glass directly after finishing your coffee rinses out your mouth.
You don’t have to give up coffee entirely to have a beautiful, bright smile—but knowing how it affects your oral health will go a long way towards allowing you to protect yourself from its potentially negative impact.
About the Author
Dr. Richard Thomas has proudly served patients and families in the Toledo, OH area for several years. Dr. Thomas received his dental doctorate from Case Western Reserve University and is an active member of several professional organizations including the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Toledo Dental Society. His practice is pleased to offer a wide range of available services including preventive, cosmetic, and restorative options. To schedule a visit, feel free to contact the practice’s website or give them a call: (419) 539-2168.