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How Coffee Affects Your Dental Health

Taking a sip of hot coffee in the morning or dropping by Starbucks for an iced Caffe Americano has been ingrained in people’s routines.

“There is something romantic about brewing a carafe, or holding a freshly-bought cup close, first thing,” said food and economic writer Roberto A. Ferdman.

According to research conducted by the United States (US) National Coffee Association in 2010, 54 percent of Americans aged 18 and above drink coffee every day.

An average of 2.45 dollars is spent for an espresso-based drink. While 1.38 dollars is fished out of the pocket for a cup of brewed coffee.

A recent study published in journal Annals of Internal Medicine also found that people who drink a cup of coffee a day were less likely to die from cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart, kidney, and respiratory diseases by 12 percent than non-coffee drinkers.

What does coffee do to your teeth?

Despite the health benefits drinking coffee might have, too much consumption of the beverage may not be good for the teeth.

One cup of coffee a day increases the chances of cavities and cause halitosis or bad breath because of its thick scent and the increased amount of oral bacteria in the mouth.

Coffee and Teeth Discoloration

Aside from these oral-related problems, coffee causes teeth discoloration.

What is teeth discoloration?

Teeth discoloration occurs when brown or black pits appear on the surface of the teeth. Sometimes, it appears as white streaks or yellow tints as well.


There are three types of teeth discoloration — extrinsic, intrinsic, and age.

  • Extrinsic teeth discoloration refers to the discoloration of the outer layer of the tooth called the enamel. It is often caused by the teeth being subjected to foods, drinks, and activities that stains the teeth including coffee, wine, cola, and smoking.
  • Intrinsic teeth discoloration affects the inner structure of the tooth called dentin. There are various causes of intrinsic teeth discoloration which include:
    • Too much exposure to fluoride in childhood
    • Use of tetracycline antibiotics of your mother during her pregnancy or your use of the tetracycline when you were eight years old or younger
    • Dental trauma in childhood
    • Dental trauma in the permanent tooth which caused internal bleeding, discoloring the tooth
    • Being born with dentinogenesis imperfecta, a rare condition causing gray, purple, or amber discolorations
  • Age-related teeth discoloration is a combination of the extrinsic and intrinsic causes of teeth discoloration because the dentin naturally turns yellow as time passes while the enamel gets thinner, resulting to the yellowed dentin to show through.


Indications of teeth discoloration include white streaks, yellow tints, or brown spots or pits.


Teeth discoloration is easy to spot even without the use of special instrument or test. A visual test will detect a teeth discoloration.

How does coffee discolor the teeth?

Coffee discolors teeth because of an ingredient called tannin, a type of polyphenol that breaks down in water and found in other beverages like wine and tea.

Coffee also helps bacteria in the mouth in creating acids which lead to tooth and enamel erosion. Enamel is made up of minerals, mainly hydroxyapatite, and serves as a protective layer of the teeth from decay.

The layer is also partially responsible for the color of the teeth. The reflection and scattering of light of the enamel, when combined with the color of the underlying material under it, called dentin produces the color of the teeth. A thick enamel covers the deep yellow to brownish color of dentin. But when enamel becomes thin, the dentin becomes more visible, resulting in yellow teeth.

Adding creamer to coffee will not make it free from stain. The same pigments and acids present in a darker-colored coffee are also found in the lighter-colored coffee. Also, creamer and sugar only speed up the growth of bacteria.

How to prevent coffee from staining your teeth?

To avoid the discoloration of the teeth, it is advisable to lessen coffee consumption. You may also use a straw when drinking to lessen contact with the teeth. Instead of sipping coffee constantly throughout the day, drink it in one go to prevent the build-up of bacteria.

Drinking lots of water will also help for a quick rinse of residual liquids. Brushing teeth and flossing soon after a cup of coffee will also help in reducing teeth stains. Eating vegetables like carrot and celery after a cup of coffee will help rub off stains on the teeth.

It is also best to visit a dentist at least once a year. Consult with your dentist on the procedure that is best to be taken to achieve whiter teeth.

How to whiten teeth?

One option is to undergo teeth whitening, which lightens teeth and helps remove stains and discoloration and how the teeth look.

Before getting a teeth whitening treatment, it is advisable to visit a dentist and go through a checkup to diagnose and treat signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral problems.

Teeth whitening usually takes a few weeks, but some treatments are done in an hour.

At Hawaii Family Dental, teeth which undergo the whitening treatment can achieve several shades lighter in as fast as 60 minutes. A whiter smile can be attained with doctor-prescribed treatments that do not expose the patient’s teeth to chemicals for longer periods of time, unlike over-the-counter whitening.

After the treatment, teeth are expected to be sensitive to heat and cold. Gums may also be sore and irritated. But, such after-effects will only last for a few days.

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.


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