Taking care of your pearly whites is incredibly important for your appearance, as well as your general health. Poor dental hygiene, gum disease and tooth decay are linked to all kinds of illnesses, from Alzheimer’s to some types of cancer. Keeping your teeth healthy is a must!
A Coffee Lover’s Guide to Caring for Your Smile
If you’re a diehard coffee aficionado, you may worry about the impact that your daily cup (or cups!) of coffee are having upon your teeth. But there are ways you can keep your smile white and bright while still enjoying your favourite brew.
What does coffee do to your teeth?
Along with other dark-coloured beverages like tea, red wine, and some soft drinks, coffee can leave yellowing stains on your teeth. This is because your tooth enamel consists of many microscopic pits, cracks and ridges, which can be filled by small particles, pigments and acids from food and drink. Polyphenols from coffee can become caught in these ridges and permanently discolour your teeth.
How can you prevent staining?
Abstaining from coffee is the best way to stop your daily pick-me-up from wreaking havoc on your smile, but for most coffee lovers this is simply not an option! Other ways to limit the impact is to cut down on the amount of coffee you have in each cup – although it will take a significant reduction to make a difference for your teeth – or try to cut down by at least a cup a day over time.
You may like to schedule in your coffee breaks at specific times during the day rather than constantly drinking one cup after the next. Taking it in through a straw can also negate its impact on your teeth by preventing the coffee from coming into direct contact with your pearly whites.
Drinking cold dripped coffee, or even having your coffee at a slightly cooler temperature than you normally do, can also help save your teeth, as heat can worsen its teeth-staining effects, so you may like to let it cool for a few minutes before taking a sip.
After each cup, it’s important to rinse your mouth out with water to get rid of excess residue. You may also like to brush your teeth ideally an hour or so after each cup to minimise the amount of yellowing, staining particles getting caught in your teeth.
Caring for your smile
Taking good care of your smile can help prevent coffee from making too much of an impact, so be sure to brush your teeth twice a day (once before you go to bed) using a fluoridated toothpaste.
Make sure not to brush your teeth straight after a meal, especially if you’ve had foods that are high in acidic content such as coffee, as acid can soften tooth enamel. It’s best to wait at least an hour after any coffee, wine, fruit, or other acidic foods and drinks, so that your saliva neutralises this acid.
Replacing your toothbrush or toothbrush head every three months will also help protect your teeth. Flossing in between your teeth every day prevents a buildup of plaque. Using antibacterial mouthwash can help limit the amount of plaque and bacteria on your teeth and get rid of any surface stains.
Regular dentist appointments are another essential part of caring for your smile. Having professional cleaning done while you’re there can help remove surface stains from your daily coffee. You may also like to speak to your dentist about professional teeth whitening treatments to brighten and whiten your smile.
Drink plenty of water, including fluoridated tap water. Eating raw fruits and vegetables with high water content – such as carrots, celery and strawberries – can also help your teeth by breaking down bacteria in your mouth.
Avoiding smoking, and sweet foods and sugary drinks, is also another important way of maintaining both your dental health and overall health. The truth is it’s never too late to turn over a new leaf and become a healthier you.
About the Author
Tony Pistolese is a Sydney orthodontist, with nearly 25 years experience helping people achieve their perfect smile.