For many of us, there’s only one way to jumpstart our mornings – coffee. But coffee drinkers beware, your favorite morning brew could be affecting your dental health and preventing you from having a whiter smile. Our own Dr. Cindy Brayer and dental hygienist Tiffany Feger appeared on Daytime TV to talk about why coffee stains your teeth and what you can do to keep your teeth sparkling bright while still enjoying that morning cup o’ joe.
Why Does Coffee Stain Teeth?
Two questions we get asked a lot are, “Why does coffee stain my teeth?” and, “How come some people get coffee stains and others don’t?”
“Anything that could stain your shirt or Tupperware can really stain your teeth,” says Tiffany Feger. “And coffee is dark, so stains your teeth, and also it has tannins in it that will bind to the rough spots on your teeth. Also, bacteria can stick to your teeth [and contribute to the staining].”
As for why some people seem to be able to drink coffee all the time without staining their teeth, Dr. Brayer explains:
“When you’re drinking coffee, the tannins in the coffee will actually get stuck to the tooth enamel. So if you have rougher enamel, like more porosities and more pittings and chips in the teeth, they’ll actually get stuck onto those pittings. People who have smoother enamel will not have as much staining.
“Another thing is if you’re not keeping your teeth clean – if you have more plaque on your teeth – then the tannins will get stuck onto those areas of plaque and debris and everything and cause them to turn to a browner stain. So sometimes you’ll see the stains right on the gum line or in between your teeth. And that’s again from the coffee stains getting stuck in those black areas.”
How Can I Remove Coffee Stains from My Teeth?
So what should you do if you have coffee stains on your teeth? Go see your dentist, of course. “A professional cleaning really will erase those stains from your teeth. And then after we remove all the stains, we will add fluoride to your teeth, and the fluoride will make your teeth more slick and smooth so [coffee stains are less likely to stick to the enamel],” Tiffany Feger advises.
For at-home care, she also recommends that patients get a good electric toothbrush.
“This is one of mine, I have a couple. This is the newest. Latest, and greatest from Oral-B, the IO, and it will really polish and keep the stains off of your teeth. The other thing you could do is whiten your teeth and when you have white teeth, you’re going to be less likely to want to sip on coffee all day long. And then also smiling! Smiling will brighten your teeth.”
How Can I Prevent Coffee from Staining My Teeth?
If giving up coffee completely just isn’t an option for you, there are a few things Dr. Brayer says you can do to help keep your coffee from staining your teeth.
- Don’t sip your coffee
“We know that if you know if you have less contact of the coffee on your teeth and you’re going to have less staining … [So] instead of sipping it all morning long, just drink it in one sitting and just be done with it.”
- Use a straw
Another way to minimize contact with your teeth is to sip your coffee through a straw if it is cool enough to do so.
“If you can use a straw and just [sip the coffee] way into the back of your mouth and bypass those front teeth, that would be best.”
- Rinse and brush
After you finish your coffee, Dr. Brayer advises patients to rinse their mouth out with water and brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
“After you drink [your coffee] then drink some water and rinse the coffee off of your teeth … Then maybe 20-30 minutes after drinking the coffee, if you can just brush your teeth and get them really clean, then that would also help too.”
She also cautions patients against using toothpaste that is too abrasive:
“[Make] sure you’re using a less abrasive toothpaste because we know that the more abrasive the toothpastes are, the rougher the enamel will be, contributing to more staining. Abrasive toothpaste [can include] whitening toothpaste or even [stain removing] toothpaste.
“Also, make sure you use a soft-bristled toothbrush because the medium and the hard toothbrushes are also more abrasive … And if you’re eating, then make sure that you’re eating foods that are less acidic. Foods and drinks that are more acidic cause more porosities in the enamel, which roughens the surface. And one last thing would be to go and check with your dentist and make sure that your bite is not contributing to more chips and fractures because that will also make your teeth not as smooth.”
Creating Smiles is one of Pinellas County’s leading providers of cosmetic and general dentistry services, including Invisalign, teeth whitening, dental implants, and oral cancer screenings. To schedule your in-office or virtual new patient consultation please call our St. Petersburg office (727-323-0377) or Clearwater office (727-791-8823).