Coffee: Starter Fluid For The Morning Impaired.
We know it’s not the best liquid to splash over our pearly whites, but we love it anyway. Is it really that bad for our teeth?
“I can’t imagine a day without coffee. I can’t imagine!” ~Howard Schultz
The main concerns for coffee drinkers (besides unsightly staining) are acid erosion and added sugar. We know sugar is terrible for teeth and causes cavities. On the other hand, studies have shown coffee can be a valuable source of antioxidants! Antioxidants in general have been linked to a number of potential health benefits—including protection against heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Takayuki Shibamoto, a professor of environmental toxicology, found that freshly brewed coffee contains potent antioxidants equal to the amount found in three oranges! If that doesn’t sound promising enough, according to Mayo Clinic, coffee also appears to improve cognitive function and decreases the risk of depression.
Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte here we come! But, before we get too excited, we need to remember these studies are based on plain, black coffee in moderation. When sugar, cream, and delicious pumpkin spice are added, you’re not only cancelling out the health benefits—your teeth are at risk for cavities and acid erosion.
Eye opening fact: A Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks contains a whopping 62 grams of sugar, compared to 39 grams in a can of Coke.
The bacteria in our mouths feed off sugar and produce acid. If we allow sugar and acid to coat our teeth for long periods of time without brushing and flossing, it’s a recipe for cavities, sensitivity, and gum disease.
Tip: Try cutting back on your sugar by decreasing a little bit, over time. If you use 4 teaspoons per cup, try going with just 2 every day for a week and keep decreasing until you’re used to the delicious taste of plain, black coffee. You’ll receive the antioxidant benefits and you’ll even lose weight!
Unfortunately, coffee is known for leaving stains behind (and no one likes stained teeth!). Some superficial coffee and tea stains can be removed during a cleaning with your hygienist. Deeper stains can often be lifted by professional whitening. We have three types of teeth whitening in our office, depending on your individual needs and budget. Ask us about which one might be right for you. It’s one of the simplest and effective ways to improve your smile (and still enjoy your coffee!).
Tip: Don’t sip on sweet beverages all day long.
Drinking one cup of sweetened coffee in a short period of time is better than sipping often throughout the day. The longer and more frequent your teeth are coated in sugary drinks, the more likely you’ll develop cavities and sensitivity in general. If you tend to keep a sugary beverage on hand during the day, make sure to alternate with sips of water. This is not only healthier for you, it helps to rinse some of the sugar and acid away from your teeth.
In conclusion, keep enjoying your favorite coffee. Just be consistent with good home care and routine check-ups. If it’s been longer than you can remember since your last cleaning and exam, come see us! We’ll be happy see you and check for small issues before they become big ones! If your beloved coffee has turned your pearly whites into golden nuggets, we can suggest the best whitening treatment for you too.