And yet…giving up these delicious drinks is easier said than done. While we do advise doing everything you can to care for your teeth and keep them healthy for a long time to come, we’re also smart enough to know that it’s not very realistic to hope that all of our patients can quit java cold turkey.
That’s why we’re taking a real-world approach and sharing some tips that can help minimize the damage that coffee has on your pearly whites.
1. Ice Ice Baby
Believe it or not, cold-brewed coffee is actually less dangerous for your teeth than the traditional hot brew. The reason is that when you use the cold brew method, the drink has fewer polyphenols and acids, which are the real causes of stains and enamel erosion.
You can cold brew coffee quite easily at home and even make a bunch at once to store in the fridge. It takes a little thinking ahead though – you pour 4 cups of cold water over a cup of course-ground coffee, let it steep for about 12 hours and then strain it. A French press works well for this too. Starbucks actually just launched their own cold brew, so give that a shot next time you stop for a cup of Joe.
2. Cream of the Crop
OK, it’s time for your science lesson of the day. Coffee causes stains because the tannins attach themselves to your teeth and seep in when you let them sit there for a while. But when you add milk to your coffee the tannins attach to dairy proteins (caseins) instead and they can’t grab onto your teeth as firmly. So when you add a splash of milk or cream, you’re weakening the staining power of the coffee. Delicious and nutritious.
3. Get it Done
Many of us like to linger over our coffee, taking little sips here and there over the course of several hours. We hate to be the bearers of bad news here, but that lingering is not doing your teeth any favors. It’s much better to drink it more quickly and then rinse with water right afterwards so that you don’t give those staining tannins a chance to hang around.
4. Straw Law
You might look a little funny drinking a hot cup of Joe through a straw, but it might be worth it. When you sip a staining beverage with a straw, it doesn’t hit the front surfaces of your teeth, so it does less damage. This is an easy strategy for cold coffee drinkers, but if you stick with the hot stuff, try a reusable straw so you don’t end up ingesting harmful plastic chemicals.
5. It’s All in the Rinse
One of the easiest and best tips for coffee drinkers is simply to rinse with water after you get your caffeine fix. Take it one step further and have a glass of water alongside your coffee – after every few sips of java, take a sip of water and swish around for a couple seconds before swallowing. This small change can have a big impact on the color and health of your teeth.
Aren’t you glad we didn’t tell you that you have to immediately swear off your beloved coffee? While giving the stuff up is the ultimate solution, you can dial down the damage a bit by putting a few of these tips in practice.