An accidental coffee spill can stain your carpets and clothes, so what about your teeth? Unfortunately for coffee drinkers – knocking back regular cups of joe is going to cause their teeth to darken and yellow over time as natural dark compounds from your brew build up on your gnashers.
But how does coffee stain your teeth? Can you reduce its impact? Is there anything to do to get your pearly whites back?
This article will look at the effect of coffee on your dental health and give a clear concise guide for helping you enjoy your coffee without getting teeth like Austin Powers.
How does coffee stain your teeth?
Several dark foods, including berries, red wine and tea are all known to stain your teeth. There are a couple of reasons why coffee is so good at turning your teeth yellow.
- It is rich in chromogens – organic compounds with dark colours.
- It is acidic.
While your teeth may feel smooth if you run your tongue over them, the outer layer of enamel contains several cracks, crevices and ridges where chromogens can get stuck, darkening the appearance of your teeth.
The consumption of hot and acidic foods – and coffee is both – will over time weaken the enamel. This has two effects.
- The white enamel gets thinner, making your teeth seem yellower
- The surface of the enamel contains more cracks and crevices where chromogens can bed down.
The bad news here is that some degree of the staining caused by coffee is permanent. Bummer. But all is not lost!
Can you reduce the impact of coffee on your teeth?
Thankfully there is plenty you can do to keep your smile radiant. First off, you can drink less coffee – shocker.
If you are unwilling to do that – and frankly, who could blame you? – then there is plenty more you can try.
You can try drinking more iced coffee and quaffing it with a straw to keep the beverage away from your on-display gnashers to stop those chromogens having a field day with your prized assets. Another option is to drink your coffee as normal, but have a glass of water with it to rinse out your mouth and reduce the number of dark pigments sitting on your teeth in between sips.
The jury is out as to whether milky coffee stains your teeth any less than espresso.
Some dental groups argue that there are the same amount of chromogens in every cup regardless, but others claim that the chromogens in milky coffee bind to milk proteins and do not stick to your teeth.
You can also brush between cups – but do so with caution. Hot acidic drinks like coffee weaken the enamel and you can brush away some of your teeth’s outer layer if you scrub too quickly after consumption. The recommended time between a coffee and a brush should be 30 mins, experts say.
How can I reverse the damage?
Alas, some level of staining is likely to always be there, but there are plenty of things you can do to get back a white smile.
First off – maintain good oral hygiene! This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day. You may also want to brush your teeth with baking soda, tooth whitening toothpaste/powder a couple of times a week! These kinds of toothpaste contain small abrasive particles that can get into cracks in the enamel and lift out some of those dark compounds that have built up!
You can also visit your dentist and get your teeth cleaned and polished a couple of times a year. These steps will keep your gnashers looking good if nothing else.
There are plenty of whiten at home kits for your teeth if you are really feeling bad about it, but these effectively strip away the outer layer of enamel on your teeth, so come with a downside.
Flossing is also a useful – if annoying – tool in the battle against a yellow smile. Spending 10 mins in front of the mirror each night has a whole host of benefits, not least preventing the build-up of dental calculus.
This crusty old deposit is highly porous and will stain from coffee much faster than your actual teeth – so best to keep it at bay if you want a Hollywood smile.