Coffee is a common morning staple for many of us, especially if we’re parents or have a lengthy commute – or, heaven forbid, both. For some people it’s a ritual, whereas for others it’s just a means to get through the day. Whatever your reasons, it’s always helpful to know you’re not alone in crowding round the kettle first thing when we get into the office. But unfortunately, apart from giving you the extra energy burst you need in the morning, your coffee habit might not be having such an energising impact on your dental health.
One of the most notorious effects of a good old cuppa Joe is its ability to permanently stain your teeth. And while there are teeth whitening procedures that can reverse the damage, it’s still something most of us will want to avoid in the first place! Let’s have a look at the science quickly. Basically, coffee contains ingredients called tannins, which are a type of chemical that breaks down in water. An unfortunate side effect is that they can cause colour compounds to more readily stick to your teeth. Tannins in particular have a lot to answer for when it comes to the teeth-staining abilities of coffee.
A pretty major building block of your tooth is the enamel, which is the hard, outer protective coating that protects the sensitive dentine underneath. It’s not a smooth surface, but instead contains lots of tiny pits and ridges that can become the unwilling home of miniscule particles of food and drink. Pigments from dark drinks like coffee can become lodged in these pits, which is a bit reason for discolouration. The enamel is also extremely porous, which makes it particularly vulnerable to the acids contained in coffee. Drinking it regularly can result in the gradual erosion of the enamel, eating away it to leave the dentine exposed underneath, which in turn leaves you with extremely sensitive teeth. The big trouble is this: your tooth enamel isn’t an organ, so it can’t repair itself or grow back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone! This means that it’s even more advisable to drink coffee only in moderation, rather than expose your teeth to constant assault every weekday morning.
Yet another well-known effect of long-term coffee consumption is bad breath – we’ve all known that feeling when we’ve suddenly realised the person we’re talking to is midway through his or her first coffee of the morning. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that we’ve all been that person once or twice too! The reason why this occurs is because the caffeine dries out the saliva in your mouth. Normally saliva suppresses the growth of bacteria, which means that without it, bacteria tends to multiply much more quickly, in turn leading to bad breath. Chewing some sugar-free gum can help get your saliva flowing again, helping fight that bacteria and thereby freshening your breath.
Of course, the simple solution is to cut down on drinking coffee, but for some people that may not be an option. We get it! What you can do, though, is get yourself a straw. Seriously. You might not feel terribly dignified, but as we’ve mentioned before, a straw helps some of the worst effects of the drink to completely bypass your teeth, while still allowing you some of that sweet caffeine goodness. In the meantime, you can enjoy all the benefits offered by our range of dentistry treatments, or contact us if you have any questions!
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Posted on: 6th Feb, 2017