It wakes you up. It gets you going. It soothes you when you're feeling angry or sad. Coffee is an enjoyable beverage, but drinking it too often may not be the best choice for your oral health. Here's a look at several ways in which coffee affects your teeth and gums.
Coffee is acidic by nature. The acid it contains can weaken tooth enamel, the outer layer of your teeth, making you more susceptible to cavities and tooth decay over time. If you must have coffee, there are a couple of ways to minimize this damage.
- Choose dark-roast coffee rather than light-roast coffee. The beans are roasted for longer, and as a result, they are less acidic. You can also look for coffees specifically advertised as low-acid.
- Rinse your mouth out with water after drinking coffee. This minimizes the amount of time that the acid sits on your teeth.
The caffeine in coffee tends to suck moisture out of your mouth tissues, leading to dry mouth. This may not initially seem like a big deal, but a dry mouth is more appealing to the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease, meaning that if you drink a lot of coffee, you're more likely to end up with these issues. The bacteria that proliferate when your mouth is dry also lead to bad breath. To minimize the dry-mouth effect of coffee, try following these tips:
- Switch to a decaf or half-caffeine coffee. The less caffeine a coffee contains, the less it will dry out your mouth.
- Chew on some sugar-free gum after drinking coffee. The chewing action will boost saliva production, so your mouth does not stay so dry for long.
This is perhaps the best-known negative effect of drinking coffee. Its dark color leads to stained, yellow tooth enamel. While some of the staining can likely be removed with a professional whitening treatment, years of coffee drinking may cause deep, set-in stains that can only be lightened – not removed entirely. To minimize the staining effect of coffee, try these methods.
- Drink your coffee through a straw so it does not come into direct contact with your front teeth.
- Rinse your mouth out with water after drinking coffee, so it does not sit on your teeth as long.
If you want to keep your teeth and gums in good shape, then it's essential to cut back on your coffee intake. When you do indulge, make sure you're following the tips above to prevent issues. For further assistance, contact a local dentist.