How Exactly Does Coffee Affect Your Teeth?

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. However, it causes stains on most substances. This includes our teeth. This staining can bring out esthetic problems. Looking into it further, is this the only effect of coffee on our teeth? In this regard, we will provide some explanations using the latest studies in dental research. We will be probing deeper into the structure of the teeth and how coffee affects them. Does it cause harm or benefit to our teeth? How about those who have artificial teeth? We will answer all these questions while giving tips on taking care of your teeth against coffee.


Teeth Environment Against Substances in Coffee

a closeup photo of a cup of coffee against a yellow background

The main reason coffee stains is the presence of a substance called tannin. It’s commonly found in plants, giving them a yellow to light brown color. Even if you have artificial teeth such as acrylic teeth, you may still experience this staining. However, staining is not the only effect coffee has on our teeth.

The teeth have two major protective layers. The outermost layer called the enamel consists of hardened carbonated hydroxyapatite. The inner layer is a softer tissue composed of less carbonated hydroxyapatite and more water, protein, and lipids. This carbonated hydroxyapatite hardens through different minerals. These minerals include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, manganese, iron, and other trace minerals.

Coffee can interact with this structure and affect the mineralization of the teeth. In a 2018 experimental study on rats, researchers applied coffee to their teeth and measured the change in mineral content in the enamel and dentin. They saw significant changes in several minerals that may indicate thinning of enamel layers. Scientists still need more research on humans to conclude the decalcification effects of coffee on teeth. 

While minerals form the structure of the teeth, our gums support and hold them. Coffee may also have effects on our gums. This 2013 assessment of a cohort study of 1,152 male dental patients studies this possible effect. The researchers found that instead of a harmful effect, statistics say that higher coffee consumption correlates with reduced periodontal bone loss. Additionally, they found no harmful effects of coffee on our periodontal health. 

The conclusions of these studies may need to be clarified. One proposes a harmful effect, while one presents a benefit. However, keep in mind that these studies have different regions of study. Coffee may affect the actual teeth structure negatively, while it may benefit the gums around it. This leads us to discuss more benefits that may affect the teeth and oral structures.


Suggested Benefits of Coffee on Teeth

a closeup photo of a cup of coffee

Humans from long ago have noticed beneficial characteristics of coffee in our bodies. Coffee prides itself on its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In terms of benefits on our teeth, there have been some related studies.

Stains caused by coffee can be a risk affecting one’s esthetics. However, your dentist can still remedy this with their recommended preventive measures. In contrast to this effect, some studies present the benefits of coffee to your teeth. 


Coffee Against Caries

Tooth caries is a sign of tooth decay. These appear as black spots on the teeth due to multiple factors such as bacteria and food acids in the mouth. The damage from caries is usually permanent. Therefore, dentists suggest preventive measures rather than treatment. 

A study in 2009 investigated the anti-carious properties of coffee in 1000 individuals. Researchers recorded their coffee intake and how they drank their coffee for 35 years. Results came in the form of a DMFS score indicating the number of the patient’s decayed, missing, and filled teeth. A high DMFS score means that your teeth have more dental issues. The following are the results of the study:

  • Subjects who drank beverages other than coffee had a DMFS score of 4.0.
  • Subjects who drank coffee with sweeteners and creamers had a DMFS score of 5.5.
  • Subjects who drank coffee with milk and no sugar had a DMFS score of 3.4.
  • Subjects who only drank black coffee had a DMFS score of 2.9.

These results show that people who don’t drink coffee have a higher score than those who do not. Meanwhile, milk and sugar seem to increase the DMFS score. With coffee alone, the score appears to be the lowest. This led to the researchers’ conclusion that coffee may have anti-carious properties. 


Coffee Against Bacteria

Bacteria affect the teeth by producing acid byproducts that interact with the teeth’s inherent minerals. A 2014 experimental study presented both antibacterial and mineral-inducing properties from an extract of  Coffea canephora

In this study, microbiologists exposed a tooth or biofilm to C. canephora extract in a medium. They induced the medium with 20% C. canephora extract at 50 microliters daily for seven days. Finally, they examined the medium using spectrophotometry and demineralization indicators.

The researchers observed the disintegration of bacteria in the medium. Afterward, they noticed an increase in calcium minerals. The increase in calcium seems to be a consequence of the bacterial lysis caused by the extract. The exact mechanism of this process is still unknown. 


Taking Care of Teeth 

a photo of a woman holding a cup of coffee

From the studies mentioned above, we can see that coffee has a risk to our teeth. However, it may also provide some benefits. In the end, we still recommend that you consult your dentist before making a decision. However, these are some key points and tips to summarize what we discussed:

  • Avoid using too much sweeteners and creamers in your coffee, as it can lead to dental caries. 
  • You may use a straw to prevent the coffee from touching your teeth.
  • Coffee stains still affect artificial dentures. Different brands stain in various degrees.
  • If you need to brush your teeth, wait for around 30 minutes after drinking coffee.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after you drink coffee to clear up the remaining liquids. 
  • Try using lightly roasted Coffea canephora coffee in your brew.