How To Prevent Coffee Stains on Teeth

How to Avoid Coffee Stains on Teeth?

By 04/14/2016Coffee cademy, Health

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.

Adding Cream Isn’t Your Best Strategy

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.

Drink Coffee Through a Straw

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.

Drink Water with Coffee

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.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

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.

Get More Tips on Drinking Coffee

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.


Author Scott

Scott is a professional writer for Driftaway Coffee. He worked as a barista for eight years, but today prefers to enjoy his beverages from the other side of the counter. When not drinking Driftaway Coffee, Scott usually has a mug of his own roasted coffee nearby.

More posts by Scott
  • yuki

    I dont agree with brushing your teeth after drinking coffee cuz it will harm your teeth.( You will damage the enamel because of the acids in coffee. you need to at least wait for 30 mins to brush your teeth after drinking coffee.) I even asked a dentist and she warned me not to do it.

  • Courtney

    One of the best ways to resolve and prevent future stains is to swirl 3% hydrogen peroxide (available in nearly every department store) around in your mouth for a few minutes a day. They say to split it in half-ish with water but I usually just do it straight and it hasn’t caused any issues after years of this. After you swish it around, spit it out and rinse out your mouth because it’ll be a little foamy from the reaction of the peroxide with bacteria. You don’t want to swallow it because it can wipe out good bacteria in your gut if you swallow a lot (you’d probably have to swallow more than a small glass full) and can make you puke if you really downed a lot. Hydrogen peroxide can safely pass through the tooth enamel to whiten under your enamel too, so it’s more effective than most whitening toothpastes which only take care of surface stains, and generally not very well either. Hope this helped.

  • Catherine Logan

    I’ve had several dentists at a university (a good one) tell me that the protein in the milk will bind with the tannins, which is what stains teeth, so will prevent/reduce staining. This works for tea, too. Perhaps you should double-check your information.

  • pang sheng shing

    I drink just one cup of coffee in the morning. I drink it with some milk but not too lite. I use a coffee straw. I immediately use hydrogen peroxide for 2 or 3 minutes. Spit out and commence to brush. I use a kind of abrasive tooth paste because the regular one I don’t feel the effect of cleaning my teeth. I take 15 to 18 minutes brushing with a battery operated brush. However, I feel so frustrated because my teeth are staining even with all the care I take. And frankly I am getting tired of this and I do want to just stop drinking coffee. The reality is that I have been drinking coffee since 4 years old. And all this staining have been happening for 9 years. Did I mention that I also use the whitening strip from a known brand in the market?

  • treefrog2

    I can vouch for the fact that drinking a sip of water after each sip of coffee works to avoid coffee stained teeth. The hygienist and I would have heated arguments because it would take so long to clean my teeth. Most of it was coffee stain even though I had my teeth cleaned every 3 months (because of periodontal disease) and brushed my teeth twice a day. Now I go to the dentist once a year and my teeth aren’t stained, I don’t have plaque or tarter or periodontal disease. (The periodontal disease, plaque, and tarter were stopped by using a series of mouthwashes. The coffee stains were stopped by drinking water after each sip of coffee.)

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