Teeth Damage From Coffee and Tea

While a morning cup of coffee or a cup of tea on a cold day can be part of our routine, drinking these wonderful beverages can have consequences. If you don’t take the proper precautions, drinking coffee and tea on a regular basis can lead to tooth stains. Here’s some more info on why this happens and some oral care measures you can take to prevent it from happening.

Your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s actually harder than steel. It stains, however, because it’s not a flat, smooth surface. It’s actually full of microscopic pits and ridges that can hold particles of the foods and drinks that you ingest. When you drink something with dark pigments, such as coffee and tea, those dark pigments can be lodged in the pits and ridges, which could lead to yellowing stains on your teeth. Unfortunately, if you take your coffee with cream, it makes little difference in regards to your teeth. The dark pigments are still just as present unless you put a lot less coffee in the cup relative to the cream.

closeup of cup of coffee

The best way to prevent a “coffee smile” is to stop drinking it, but for some of us, the thought of giving up these elixirs of life is just not an acceptable one. There’s still hope, however. Here are some steps you can take to keep your teeth as pearly as possible and still enjoy your morning coffee:

  • Have a designated “coffee time” instead of consuming all day long. Afterward, you can drink lots of water to rinse your teeth and even brush before the pigments set in. This is especially useful if you drink your coffee with sugar.
  • Use whitening toothpaste and brush regularly. A word of caution, however. Prolonged use of whitening toothpaste can wear away tooth enamel since they contain abrasives that “scrub” your teeth for a whitening effect.
  • Use a straw, but make sure it’s a straw specifically designed for hot beverages. This will not completely protect your teeth from staining, but your teeth will not get as much direct exposure to the liquid and sugars.
  • Visit your dentist for regular cleanings, which can remove surface stains from your teeth.

Of course, the best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy is to make sure that your oral care habits are up to speed. Be sure to brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist regularly for checkups. If you have stained teeth, make an appointment to talk about the best ways to brighten your smile.