How To Avoid Coffee Stains On Your Teeth

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

If coffee is like an elixir of life for you, you should be aware of the potential damage it can cause to your teeth. Coffee contains tannins and acids that erode the protective covering of teeth and leave behind undesirable yellow stains. But perhaps that’s worth it for the kick you get from a fresh cup. But how can you avoid staining?

In order to avoid coffee stains on your teeth, limit your coffee intake, add milk to lighten the coffee’s color, and rinse your mouth with water after drinking it. In the meantime, you can try to remove existing stains using coconut oil, activated charcoal, citrus fruit peels, or baking soda.  

Limiting your coffee intake as much as possible may be tough, but your teeth will thank you. At the same time, there are measures you can take to help reduce coffee’s damaging effects, so read on to see which ones might work best for you.

How Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth? 

Woman drinking coffee

Coffee might taste great to you and it might make you feel even better than it tastes, but it is not exactly a good look on your teeth. And the quality of the coffee doesn’t matter. Whether it’s coffee brewed from fresh Starbucks beans (on Amazon) or mixed up from a cheap instant-coffee powder (also on Amazon), all coffee will have similar effects on your teeth.

This is because coffee consists of organic compounds called tannins (or tannoids), which are responsible for its bitter and dry after-taste. Tannins are antioxidants, meaning that they’re generally good for our health. But they are also very strong dyes, which is not so good for our pearly whites.

Tannins are actually used to dye fabrics, so you can imagine the effect they have on our teeth when we drink coffee. But that’s not the only issue. Coffee is also highly acidic, making it all the more harmful for our teeth.

Our teeth are made up of enamel which gives them strength and the white color. But the acidity of coffee combined with the staining effect of tannins results in erosion of this enamel, leaving behind yellow stains.

The occasional cup of coffee might not immediately result in yellow teeth but frequent, daily consumption almost guarantees that your teeth will get stained. You are at a greater risk of stains if you like to take your coffee without any milk or cream — substances that might counteract tannin’s staining properties.

How Do I Prevent Coffee Stains on My Teeth? 

It’s certainly hard to give up coffee, but don’t give up on your oral hygiene just because you like coffee. Coffee stains are preventable. Here are some prevention methods:

Reduce Coffee Intake

If giving up coffee is out of the question, then at least try to reduce your intake of the beverage. Restrict yourself to a maximum of one cup per day and get your caffeine fix through other healthier beverages such as green tea for the rest of the day.

Add Milk

Add milk to your coffee to make the color lighter and to reduce the coffee’s staining effect. The darker the shade of the coffee, the more likely it is to leave behind a yellow stain.

Adding milk will also protect your teeth against the acids responsible for staining because the proteins in it will bind to the polyphenols in coffee and prevent them from working on the enamel of your teeth.

Change Your Coffee Habits

Try not to sip on your coffee for extended periods of time or savor it for hours after the first brew. It’s preferable to gulp it down as quickly as you can, thereby limiting the time it comes into contact with your teeth.

You can also rinse with some water after drinking coffee to minimize staining and restore your mouth’s normal pH balance.

How Do I Get Rid of Coffee Stains on My Teeth? 

Pretty young woman brushing her teeth in the bathroom at home

If you’re a coffee addict worried about the yellow stains your favorite beverage leaves behind, rest assured that the damage is not irreversible. The important thing is to identify that your teeth are yellowing and to intervene as soon as you can.

Realizing that coffee is causing stains on your teeth can be hard, especially because the change appears slowly and is very subtle at the beginning. Regular visits to the dentist is a good way to keep track of your overall oral hygiene, and your doctor might catch on to the staining sooner than you do.

As acidity and tannins in coffee take effect, you will notice that the white enamel of your teeth will erode to expose yellow dentin underneath. 

In this case, you might be tempted to use any teeth whitening product you can find, but you should be aware of the potential consequences. Incorrect usage of random whitening products can result in damaged teeth and lead to rapid erosion of enamel as well as increased tooth sensitivity.

With that being said, here are some effective remedies you can use to restore the whiteness of your teeth:

Brush regularly 

This should go without saying, but brushing your teeth two to three times a day in the correct manner is the best way to deal with any teeth-related trouble. Brushing can help you restore the whiteness of your teeth sooner than you think. 

You should brush you teeth for at least two minutes in gentle, circular motions. However, do not brush immediately after consuming coffee because your teeth are in a particularly vulnerable state just after you’ve had an acidic drink. Brushing at that point can do additional damage.

Rinse your mouth with coconut oil

Using sesame and sunflower oil has been found to reduce mouth diseases caused by plaque, which is also responsible for the yellowing of the teeth. Coconut oil can have the same effect and can be used to get rid of plaque and bacteria growing in the mouth.

Take one to two teaspoons of an organic coconut oil, such as this liquid oil from Viva Naturals (on Amazon), and rotate it around your mouth for ten to twenty minutes. Take care not to swallow the oil while swishing it.

Spit the oil out, rinse your mouth with water, and then brush your teeth to remove any remaining particles. 

Rub your teeth with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste 

Baking soda is a versatile ingredient known to be helpful in almost every stain-related situation. Yellow teeth are no exception. Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide in a 1:2 ratio to make a paste. Brush your teeth with this paste in slow, circular motion to cover all stained teeth surfaces.

You can use this paste daily to brush your teeth or you can mix it with water to make a mouthwash. However, this is a long-term solution and you must continue for at least a month in order to see the results. 

There are also toothpastes that contain baking soda, like the Arm & Hammer White Extreme Toothpaste (on Amazon).

Rub your teeth with lemon or orange peels

Citrus fruit peels are known to have citric acid and d-limonene compound, both of which are found to be effective against teeth stains. Rub a piece of lemon or orange peel on your stained teeth for two to four minutes every day.

You must do this for at least a month to see any results. Alternatively, you can buy a toothpaste with d-limonene as one of the ingredients. 

A 2017 study showed that citrus fruit peels all have whitening properties but with varying degrees. Tangerine peels are said to be the best for teeth stain removals, but orange and lemon peels are also good tools for getting rid of coffee stains.

Use activated charcoal

Charcoal is generally known to be great with stains because of its absorbent properties that work well against stubborn pigments. Many toothpastes contain activated charcoal for its whitening effect. You can buy one of these toothpastes or use activated charcoal on its own to get rid of yellow coffee stains. 

You can get activated charcoal capsules, like these ones from NaturalLife Labs (on Amazon), and use a toothbrush to brush the charcoal against your teeth in gentle, circular motions. However, make sure to not rub it against your gums as activated charcoal can be abrasive and cause bleeding. 

Alternatively, you can also make a mouthwash with activated charcoal and water and rinse your mouth with it daily. As with most of these methods, it will take at least a month to see the results.

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