We all know soda is bad for teeth. But what about your favorite morning cup of brew? Coffee drinking is an epidemic, and while soda consumption declines in the U.S., the number of people drinking coffee is gradually rising, with nearly 83 percent of Americans reporting that they drink coffee, according to the National Coffee Association.
The dental tagline for soda, "Sip all day, get decay," directly applies to coffee. Many of us have even forgotten how to function without our cup of Joe, but the same thing that puts a smile on our faces in the morning may stain our pearly whites and lead to tooth decay.
Although the enamel of your teeth is the hardest substance in your body - considered even stronger than bone - everyday acids from coffee can attack and soften the tooth surface, which contains microscopic pits and ridges that hold particles of the drink. Imagine how rain, sleet and ice wear down rock over time. The same thing happens when we sip coffee throughout the day. Pigments from the dark-colored beverage become embedded in those cracks and ridges and, if left untreated, can cause permanent yellowing stains.
At the heart of the problem is the length of time which we sip coffee. When when we drink the beverage throughout the day, our teeth become bathed in the dark colors, staining dental enamel and triggering cavities. Coffee passes on its coloring to your teeth, as it does to sweaters, porcelain and white carpet. Many religious coffee drinkers might be on the lookout for teeth whitening options.
Coffee also causes bad breath. The caffeine can dry out the mouth by slowing saliva production, which leads to halitosis for a couple of reasons. First, saliva normally helps attack anaerobic sulfur-producing bacteria found in your mouth, so when it's no longer present, the bacteria fans the foul smell. Second, the chemicals in coffee will be left on the teeth, causing stinky breath. This is similar to how remaining food particles in the mouth give off a bad odors after meals.
Preventing the "coffee smile"
The only surefire way to prevent the staining caused by coffee is to give up the beverage, which, for many, is not a realistic solution. So, the most effective and easiest way to protect your teeth is to rinse with water once you finish your cup of coffee. The H2O rinses down the residue and keeps the chemicals from drenching your teeth in the long haul.
Another piece of advice that may not be as pleasurable is to drink your coffee as quickly as possible (without burning yourself of course). Instead of abstaining, try to consume coffee at specific times, rather than sipping constantly throughout the day. This will minimize contact with the staining liquid.
At the end of the day, when the cup is empty, keep your smile bright and cavity-free by brushing, rinsing, chewing sugar-free gum and capitalizing on teeth whitening options.