What's the healthiest way to get your caffeine fix?
SUMMARY: You may need your morning java to get through the day, but the beverage you pick and the way you drink it could have a lasting effect on your smile.
Posted: March 15, 2013
Do you wake up every morning looking forward to your made-to-order latte or drip coffee? For many of us, this is what gets us up, moving and ready to tackle the day! But did you know that the caffeinated beverage you choose and the way you drink it have significant effects on your overall oral health? We know, there's no way you can give up your morning java, but here are some ways to help keep those precious pearly whites ... well, white!
Before the massive expansion of Starbucks and the boom of latte art, a good ole fashioned cup of coffee was the best way to get your body and mind moving in the morning. Bad breath from coffee is fairly common, and it also is a major culprit of teeth stains. Whitening products can help reverse any major staining issues, but you'll want to make sure that they are sensitive and don't contain harsh additives that can cause more damage to your teeth.
If you want to reduce your risk of teeth staining, you may want to opt for a latte instead of a black cup of coffee. Adding milk greatly lowers the potency and staining power of coffee or espresso; however, the lactose may not get rid of bad breath caused by java. In fact, it's possible that it can increase the probability of tooth decay - which, of course, leads to bad breath.
Do you usually go for a creamy caramel drink every morning? It's no secret that this type of beverage is the worst kind for you. Adding a high amount of sugar to the already bad oral health equation will just add fuel to the fire! Of course, you may not want to give these yummy beverages up all together, but taking them out of your regular morning routine (make them a treat beverage instead) is a good idea.
How you drink it
Do you nurse your coffee or spend the entire morning refilling your mug? This is actually horrible for your teeth, and not to mention your breath. You may end up needing cavity treatments because the bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, metabolize carbohydrates and sugars into acid that destroys tooth enamel leading to cavities and tooth decay. Generally, a cup of coffee or latte should be consumed within 15 minutes, but that's easier said than done for a lot of people.
"I'll drink it as I remember," Seattle author David Volk told NBC News. "It'll be sitting on the desk and it'll get cold, so I'll put it in the microwave and then forget about it and then find it later and then start drinking it again. There are just days when you really need that mocha. It's like liquid therapy. I don't want to stuff my face, but I just need something. It's kind of a moment."
Volk isn't the only person that feels this way. According to Seattle-based dentist Heidi Hackett, people who spend hours sitting at a computer desk will commonly have a cup of coffee or latte by their side for much of the day. In the past five to seven years, Hackett says she has seen a dramatic increase in cavity treatment or tooth decay for patients who were previously not prone to oral health issues.
What to do
If you can't imagine the beginning of your day without several cups of coffee, you should make sure to drink water afterward and frequently to wash away the acids and bacteria. Keeping up with a regular regimen of brushing and flossing, as well as using a fluoride rinse can help prevent against the loss of tooth enamel.