Drinking coffee regularly for a long period of time can stain your teeth. As tannins in coffee build up on tooth enamel, they cause discoloration. If your teeth are already stained by coffee, there are a number of whitening options (including at-home and professional methods) that may help reduce and possibly eliminate the staining. Prevention, however, is the best way to combat coffee stains on teeth. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, here are three ways you can keep your pearly whites bright and brilliant — and one method that isn’t as effective.
Some people, mostly people who aren’t dentists, recommend adding milk or cream to your coffee to lighten its color. Their thinking is that by lightening the color of your coffee, you’re reducing how bad it will stain your teeth. This thinking, however, is faulty for two reasons.
First, adding milk or cream to your coffee doesn’t reduce how many tannins are in it. In writing about tea and coffee, Colgate notes that it’s the tannins in both beverages that stain teeth. Whether your coffee looks light or dark has little impact on how much it stains. How many tannins it contains does, but adding milk won’t change the tannin content.
Second, adding milk increases the sugar content of your coffee, for there are sugars in milk. These sugars can increase the amount of plaque on your teeth. Plaque makes your teeth sticky and gives tannins something to grasp onto on your teeth.
Drinking coffee through a straw will reduce how much coffee comes into contact with the most visible portions of your teeth. Your molars will still be stained, but the forward-facing side of your front teeth won’t come into contact with many coffee tannins.
This method isn’t perfect. For, it’s easy to burn yourself when drinking hot coffee through a straw, and you may even burn yourself. Additionally, you could develop wrinkles from constantly sucking on straws if you drink a lot of coffee. These wrinkles are sometimes visible around smoker’s mouths, as they are regularly inhaling on cigarettes.
When occasionally drinking cold-brew, though, this is a good method to reduce how badly it stains your teeth.
Having a glass of water alongside your cup of coffee is a great way to reduce how long your teeth are in contact with the coffee. Drinking water while drinking coffee will help flush the coffee out of your mouth, and it will rinse off your teeth. If you’re having a sweet coffee beverage, it will also help dissolve and remove sugars from your teeth that could cause plaque.
Practicing good oral hygiene is perhaps the best way to prevent coffee stains on your teeth. You should be brushing and flossing regularly, and using a mouthwash can also help. These are the best ways to fight plaque and remove tannins that remain after having a cup of coffee.
If you can’t brush your teeth right after having coffee, swirling water in your mouth or chewing sugarless gum can help until you’re able to brush.
Drinking coffee is an art and science. It’s a craft that we at Driftaway Coffee are constantly trying to perfect. It involves more than just brewing the perfect cup of coffee, though. Drinking coffee also includes making sure your coffee habits are healthy. We’ve published posts on how coffee affects the brain, sleep and other aspects of life. To find out when we publish our next post on coffee and health, make sure you follow us on Twitter.