Caffeine Damage

Why Going Easy on the Caffeine May Help Protect Your Teeth

If you have been a coffee drinker for some time, then you know that the dark liquid called coffee stains teeth. If you have had a recent teeth cleaning or teeth whitening, the dentist probably warned you about the staining effects of coffee on your freshly whitened teeth. Tea will do the same thing. Besides just getting stained teeth, did you know that there is also more damage being done to your teeth from coffee?

The Cause of Teeth Stains

The more coffee you drink, the more your teeth are going to be stained. The reason for this is that coffee contains tannins, which is the same compound found in red wine, tea, and blueberries. Tannins are powerful staining agents – a polyphenol that enables and causes color compounds to be able to stick to your teeth more easily.

The tannins from the coffee get caught in the various ridges and crevices on your teeth's enamel. While teeth appear to be smooth, they really are far from it. There are many places for tannins to get caught on. If your teeth are not kept clean by brushing and flossing, then the tannins can also get stuck on the plaque and tartar. Over time, the tannins can work their way further into the enamel and underlying layers of your teeth – making the stains go ever deeper – and harder to remove.

Coffee Damages Teeth

The bacteria in your mouth that can damage your teeth are always present. Whenever you eat or drink anything besides water, the bacteria are multiplying and producing acid. The acid erodes and thins the enamel on your teeth, and it also creates holes and pits in it.

Coffee is also highly acidic. This means it contributes to the damage of your dental enamel. Decaffeinated coffee is even more acidic.

One more way that coffee can damage your teeth is by giving you dry mouth. Coffee is a diuretic, which means it helps your body eliminate water. This problem can be serious because your saliva performs two important tasks in protecting your teeth. The first thing is that saliva helps wash away the harmful bacteria, acids, and sugar off of your teeth – if you have enough. The second thing is that saliva helps to replace the minerals in your enamel that the acid removes.

Sugar Damages Teeth

The bacteria that produce the acid feed on sugar and carbs. This means that the more sweets you eat, or sugary drinks you consume, that it is adding to the amount of damage the bacteria causes. Soda is among the worst, and so are some fruit juices and sports drinks. Many specialty coffees also have loads of sugar in them, and if you sip on coffee all day, then you are not only staining your teeth more, but you are also causing acid to work on destroying your enamel all day long.

The same bacteria also cause gum disease. It starts out as gingivitis, but if greater care is not given to your teeth to protect them, it can lead to periodontitis, which is the primary reason for tooth loss in adults today.

Adding creamer or milk to your coffee will not reduce the staining effect of coffee unless you reduce the amount of coffee you drink. The tannins are still there, whether your coffee looks light or dark. Milk also has sugar in it.

Teeth Sensitivity

Over time, the acid from the bacteria will create holes in your enamel – microscopic – that will enable sugar and acids, and hot spices to get through to your tooth's nerve. This causes sensitive teeth.

When a tooth becomes sensitive due to weakened or eroded enamel, you cannot grow new enamel. It will require a dentist to fix the problem. This means it will require a filling; a crown if the tooth has become badly eroded; possibly a root canal; or, maybe a dental implant or bridge. Dental bonding may also be used to cover badly discolored teeth.

Tips to Prevent Teeth Stains

Since most people who drink coffee are not willing to give it up – even for whiter teeth, other options need to be given. It is important to keep your teeth white since it does affect your ability to interact with other people. Having white teeth also makes you look younger, and it lets you smile naturally without having to try and hide your teeth.

Here are some tips to help you keep your teeth whiter and still drink coffee.

You can: 

  • Use a straw to drink your coffee, which prevents the coffee from hitting your teeth directly.

  • Drink your coffee quickly, followed by rinsing your mouth out with water.

  • Limit yourself to how much coffee you drink each day.

  • Brush your teeth after drinking coffee to remove the sugars, plaque, and tannins from your teeth.

Remove Coffee Stains from Teeth

There are several ways to get rid of coffee stains on the teeth. One way is to use whitening toothpaste. You can also buy a teeth whitening kit at a drugstore. This will whiten your teeth a couple of shades in about two weeks’ time with a daily application. The fastest way, however, to remove coffee stains from teeth is to go to the dentist. They have more powerful chemicals, and it is possible for your teeth to be made six or seven shades brighter in just one appointment.

If you need teeth whitening to help remove coffee stains or to treat other dental problems, and if you live in the Carrollton, TX or Grapevine, TX areas, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified Periodontist can help you. He provides many dental treatments, as well as cosmetic dentistry. For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can call his office today at (817) 756-8578.