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How to prevent coffee stains on teeth (for coffee lovers!)

By Anthony Pistolese June 2, 2017

For many Australians coffee is a pick-me-up, an excuse to catch up with friends, a source of comfort before work and a provider of energy after the gym. Coffee simply makes us feel good. It gives you the energy and confidence to work more efficiently and reach new heights in your professional life.

But what happens when your coffee is also taking away your confidence to smile due to its staining effects on teeth?

After all, studies have shown people with wider, brighter and more confident smiles are perceived as happier, smarter and more employable. Read on for some pro-tips about caring for your teeth and keeping your smile bright.

How does coffee stain teeth?

The polyphenols in coffee can become caught in the microscopic ridges and cracks in your teeth, leading to yellowing stains that permanently discolour your smile over time. 

4 ways to prevent coffee stains on your teeth

1. Reduce the amount of coffee you drink

If going without your daily brew is unthinkable, you may like to reduce the amount of coffee in each cup to help prevent teeth staining. It can’t hurt to try it out, can it?

Try reducing your coffee intake by drinking coffee only at certain times rather than constantly sipping throughout the day. Actively setting aside coffee break times helps you take charge of your coffee habit and take a much needed mental break from your day.

It’s best to aim to reduce the number of cups you drink per day rather than the ratio of coffee per cup, as unfortunately it takes a significant reduction of the amount of coffee per cup to make a difference in brightening your smile.

Pro-tip: A good night’s sleep will minimise the need for a coffee to get you through that 3pm slump.

2. Change the ingredients in your coffee

Since caffeine stains your teeth, a reduction in your consumption is best. However, the ingredients you have in your coffee can also impact teeth discolouration.

Some evidence suggests that high fat milks (rather than soy milk or skim milk) can help minimise caffeine from attaching to and staining teeth, since fatty milk is high in protein, which counteracts the staining.

It goes without saying that those who have spoonfuls of sugar and generous servings of cream with every cup of coffee aren’t doing their teeth any favours.


3. Improve your general oral hygiene


Rinse your mouth

Another important component of how to prevent coffee stains on teeth is simply rinsing your mouth out with water after each cup. This helps get rid of excess coffee residue (and can help freshen that sour coffee breath!).

Brush your teeth

Brushing your teeth after each cup is another way to protect your teeth from coffee’s staining effects. Be sure to wait an hour before doing so, as otherwise the lingering acidity can harm the enamel on your teeth.

When picking your next toothbrush, look out for one with a small enough head that can easily access all surfaces of your teeth, and a long enough handle that you can comfortably hold it. A soft-bristled toothbrush can also prevent damage to tooth enamel, gums and root surfaces.

Use a tooth whitening toothpaste

Simply replacing your regular toothpaste with a whitening toothpaste can help counteract the discolouring effects of your daily diet. This will lighten your teeth by targeting surface stains


4. Get professional advice on whitening and maintenance 


Regular dentist visits

One of the most important ways to keep your smile nice and bright is to make sure you visit your dentist regularly, from every 3 to 24 months depending on your dentist’s recommendations, for regular cleanings.

This includes tooth scaling and polishing to remove tartar from your teeth and around the gums. Often these check-ups and cleanings are covered by health insurance.

Professional teeth whitening

Having your teeth whitened professionally is far more effective than using any over the counter DIY teeth-whitening products, as they contain stronger solutions. At Inner West Orthodontics we can provide you with a special whitening solution we have seen great success with in our patients.

So, how bad is coffee for your smile?

While there’s no denying that the caffeine in coffee can stain your teeth, studies show that a cup of coffee may actually keep your teeth strong. Research from Boston University has found that drinking coffee could help protect our teeth from periodontal (gum) disease. It’s believed that this is due to the antioxidants coffee contains.

Another study by the British Journal of Nutrition found that coffee is less acidic than fruit juices, soft drinks, energy drinks and flavoured mineral waters and doesn’t weaken our teeth’s protective enamel. This means it won’t contribute to tooth erosion unless consumed in excessive amounts.

Having certain types of coffee without sugar, namely strong, black coffee made from Coffea canephora (robusta coffee), could also help stave off plaque and thus prevent tooth decay. That said, avoid over-consumption of coffee. These positive dental impacts are only associated with coffee consumption in moderation!

The good news is, you don’t have to give up your favourite cup of coffee to put your best smile forward. Coffee lovers rejoice: simply reducing coffee consumption and incorporating simple measures for dental care will help your smile stay strong and bright.

For many, the perfect smile boosts happiness and confidence, bringing greater social and professional success. As a result treatments such as Invisalign, which are invisible and non-invasive, are becoming increasingly common for people of all ages.

To find out more about non-invasive ways to improve your smile, take a look at our adult braces page or get in touch with us today.

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