It should come as no surprise that coffee is extremely popular in America today. In fact the Harvard School Of Public Health estimates that 54% of Americans over 18 drink at least one cup a day. So while over half of us are consuming coffee each day, it can be tricky to tell whether coffee is benefiting or harming our oral health. After all, its seems like every week there is a study either touting or condemning the effects of drinking coffee. We’re here to get to the bottom of coffee and dental health and how it can both positively and negatively affect your teeth.
Coffee is likely one of the most highly disputed “health foods” in the world today right alongside eggs. Some researchers swear by drinking a cup of day while others recommend cutting coffee out of your diet altogether. Certainly we at Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry can’t compile our own research data, but we can point to studies others have performed. For example, Donald Hensrud M.D. with the Mayo Clinic explains that many recent studies show coffee can lower your risk of Parkinson’s Disease, Type II Diabetes and Liver Disease. Coffee is also rich in antioxidants, which help lower inflammation in your body. This represents a huge advantage when we talk about coffee and dental health. Lowering inflammation in areas like your gums can be key to fighting periodontal disease and tooth loss. So in this regard, coffee can be great for your dental health.
Of course there are some negatives to coffee consumption as well. Those who consume more than two cups a day can put themselves at greater risk for heart disease. So if you’re a coffee junkie who likes to overindulge, you may seriously want to think about cutting back. Naturally there is the concern around teeth staining as well. There is no doubt regular exposure of coffee to your teeth will cause some discoloration. This is especially important to note for those that engage in regular whitening treatments. You’re likely undoing all the whitening when you drink coffee shortly after the treatments. (For more on in-office whitening, read How Does In-Office Whitening Work?) Finally coffee can contribute to halitosis or bad breath. It will also dehydrate you, which further amplifies the symptoms of halitosis.
If you’re worried about tooth staining, or you’re just not sure on the verdict as to whether coffee is good for you or not, there is a great dental friendly alternative out there. Green tea has actually been shown to have all the benefits of coffee and more. Much of this has been attributed to the L-Theanine compound that is rich in green tea. L-Theanine can help improve mental focus, fight the development of certain cancers, and even help you lose weight. Green tea also contains less caffeine, which makes it a better option for those that are sensitive to caffeine. Finally for our purposes of coffee and dental health, green tea will stain your teeth far less than coffee.
Modern research doesn’t leave us at a point where everyone should consider quitting coffee. In fact the benefits of it look quite promising. However, you should limit your intake. One cup of coffee is plenty per day. Also avoid any sweeteners in your daily cup of joe. They can contribute to tooth decay, and tack on extra calories. While you can expect to experience some staining of your teeth, rinsing your mouth regularly with water while you drink coffee will help limit any potential staining. However for the best results, you may want to switch to green tea.
For a more detailed analysis on how coffee is impacting your dental health, feel free to schedule a checkup with Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry. We can talk whitening goals as well as other factors that will help you make an informed decision about your coffee use. Stop by and see us soon!