Do you need a hot cup of coffee to pep you up in the morning? Plenty of Americans do. But before you take another sip of java, consider what it can do to your oral health. Dentists emphasize that heavy coffee consumption can lead to dry mouth, bad breath, stained teeth and dental decay.
The U.S. sure loves its coffee. Every day, we consume 400 million cups o' joe. That's 146 billion cups per year, according to the 2012 Coffee Statistics Report, enough to make Americans the leading coffee consumers on Earth.
While the bitter black brew is great for waking up in the morning, it's not quite as helpful when it comes to your oral health. Studies have shown that coffee drinking almost invariably causes dry mouth and a form of halitosis known as (what else) coffee breath.
As oral health expert Steven Sulfaro told the Tri-County Times, this beverage can make it harder for you and your dentist to keep your mouth clean and fresh-smelling.
"It's a team effort between you and your dental healthcare provider," he told the newspaper. "It takes diligent home care with twice a day brushing and flossing, especially after drinking tea or coffee."
According to a study published in the Journal of Breath Research, strong coffee can have a seriously negative effect on your breath. Researchers found that when they made a disgusting mix of saliva and coffee grounds (2 percent by weight), the resulting slurry produced 85 percent more volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs), the molecules that give bad breath its stink.
Soak your tongue in coffee, and the microbes in your mouth will give off VSCs like 3-mercapto-3-methylbutylformate, a compound that gives expired milk, old fish and rotten eggs "musty" aroma. Yuck.
However, you don't need to skip the joe. Instead, just rinse with a specialty mouthwash afterward, or suck on a mouth-moistening lozenge.