Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

Coffee is among the most popular beverages consumed around the world. However, due to its acidic nature, coffee can have adverse effects on your teeth, such as enamel deterioration and staining. The best way to prevent these issues is to lower your coffee intake and regularly practice good oral hygiene.

Over time, coffee can cause teeth staining and erode your enamel, leaving teeth more vulnerable to bacteria and uncomfortable sensitivity to hot and cold. Dentists recommend rinsing with water after having coffee, and limiting the use of sweeteners and cream to curb these effects.

Regular consumption of coffee over an extended time will inevitably stain your teeth. While these stains aren’t harmful per se, they can still look unflattering. Bad breath, gum sensitivity, cavities, and enamel erosion may also occur from prolonged coffee consumption. A whitening toothpaste can help reduce the staining along with using a straw and practicing regular oral hygiene techniques.

Is Coffee Bad for Your Teeth?

Young smiling woman drinking coffee in the morning

If you’re a coffee lover, we’ve got some bad news. Since coffee is very acidic, it will start to erode the enamel on your teeth over time. When it comes to various types of coffee, black coffee tends to be better for your teeth than coffee with added cream or sugar.

However, even black coffee is acidic and harms your tooth enamel. What’s more, the chemistry changes in the mouth coffee causes can help bacteria to grow in your mouth, which can in turn lead to erosion of tooth enamel, tooth/gum sensitivity, and cavities.

Over time, coffee can cause bad breath or “halitosis” since it tends to stick to your tongue, but some consider this a feature, not a bug. This is because if you already have bad breath, coffee-breath may be an upgrade!

Drinking through a straw and limiting the use of cream or sugar can help prevent the harmful effects of coffee on your teeth. You can also rinse your mouth with water after drinking coffee and brush your teeth about 30 minutes after the coffee to help curb the harmful effects.

Brushing immediately after drinking coffee, which produces an acidic environment in the mouth and leaves teeth especially vulnerable, can actually damage enamel since you’re brushing when the chemical environment in the mouth is not in equilibrium. Rinsing your mouth with water can help reset the chemistry balance, so you should rinse before brushing as a habit.

How Does Coffee Damage Your Teeth?

While the harmful effects of coffee may not become instantly apparent, consumption of coffee over time can damage your teeth.

The acidity of coffee directly affects the tooth’s enamel. The enamel is the outer layer of your teeth that acts as a shield against the outside environment, protecting the teeth from harm and deterioration.

As the enamel starts to break down, not only are your teeth exposed to the bacteria outside, but tooth sensitivity will also increase.

Consuming coffee over time, especially when it’s with cream or sugar, will start to break down and erode the enamel. This leads to sensitive and brittle teeth. It also leaves the teeth without any protection and therefore more vulnerable to diseases.

Along with practicing proper oral hygiene, dentists recommend eating some cheese after coffee in order to neutralize the acidic environment. Rinsing your mouth with water also helps. For frequent coffee drinkers, dentists also recommend enamel-strengthening toothpastes.

Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth?

Coffee consumption over time does lead to stained teeth.

When the enamel of your teeth comes into contact with tannin, one of the primary ingredients in coffee, it begins to yellow and stain your teeth. Over time, as you consume coffee, this process repeats itself and the stains become more apparent.

While there is no denying that coffee does stain your teeth, you can reduce the effects with proper care. Dentists recommend rinsing with water after drinking coffee and practicing good oral hygiene as some of the most effective ways to counter staining.

For regular coffee drinkers, using a whitening toothpaste such as Crest 3D Brilliance (on Amazon) may also be a good idea.  

How Do I Prevent Coffee From Staining My Teeth?

Young smiling woman drinking coffee in the morning

Fortunately, coffee stains are only cosmetic and don’t usually cause any harm to your teeth. However, even though they’re cosmetic, no one loves having (and revealing) stained teeth. Here are a few things you can do to slow down and take care of the staining:  

  • Drink Water: Drinking water after coffee will help clear your mouth any coffee remains or bacteria that might be stuck to your tongue.

    Another advantage of drinking water after coffee is to activate saliva production, which helps curb the dangerous effects of coffee. Consumption of coffee can slow down or reduce saliva production.
  • Use a Straw: Drinking coffee through a straw will limit contact between coffee and your teeth. While you may not always be able to drink coffee through a straw, the more you do, the more you keep your teeth healthy.
  • Add Milk: The natural compounds found in milk help neutralize the acidic effect of most coffees, thereby reducing its harmful effect on your teeth.
  • Eat Cheese: Dentists recommending eating some cheese after having coffee. This works similarly to the milk; the cheese helps in neutralizing the acid.
  • Practice Proper Oral Hygiene: Brushing and flossing regularly as part of a good oral hygiene procedure helps fight the harmful elements that break down the tooth’s enamel.

    Rinsing your mouth with a good mouthwash, like Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash (on Amazon), also helps.
  • Use a Whitening Toothpaste: Consider changing your toothpaste to one that is specifically for tooth whitening if you’re a regular coffee drinker. Frequent brushing using whitening toothpaste will significantly help slow down the staining process.

While these methods will help you limit teeth staining, it’s important to remember that coffee intake should also be reduced. A combination of limiting your intake of coffee and implementing the prevention methods listed above will have the maximum and most effective results.

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