Love Coffee But Not How It Stains Your Teeth? We Can Help

Love Coffee But Not How It Stains Your Teeth? We Can Help

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who finds great joy in a cup of morning coffee and can’t imagine giving it up, even for a whiter smile, there’s good news for you: Certain habits and dental treatments can mitigate the effects of coffee on your teeth.

We asked our specialists at Cherry Family Dental about how to prevent dental stains while drinking coffee and what treatments are available for patients who already have stained teeth. Dr. Misty Henne and Dr. Chloe Chu were happy to share their expert tips and explain how we can whiten your teeth.

Understanding how coffee stains teeth 

Coffee stains occur as a consequence of tannins. Tannins are compounds secreted by plants to make fruits, seeds, and leaves taste more bitter, which deters herbivores and omnivores from consuming them. 

However, humans have found a way to make plants rich in bitter compounds more palatable by adding sugar (and some of us who drink our coffee black actually like the bitter flavor.) Aside from tasting bitter, tannins can also stain teeth by enhancing the capacity of chromogens (substances that can become colored when oxidized) to stick to tooth enamel. 

However, coffee isn’t the only beverage that stains tooth enamel. Wine and black tea contain tannins as well, so drinking a glass of red wine with dinner or a bottle of iced tea on your afternoon commute can stain your teeth, too.

Preventing coffee stains 

Adding a splash of milk to your coffee may reduce the staining caused by tannins. Casein, a protein found in dairy products, can bind to tannins and neutralize them. 

Unfortunately, these proteins are found only in dairy. So if you drink your coffee with almond milk, soy milk, or any other type of dairy alternative, you won’t enjoy the same benefits. 

Another way you can mitigate damage from tannins is to drink coffee with a straw, which works well with iced coffee. This allows you to minimize the contact between the beverage and your teeth. Drinking water soon after finishing your cup of coffee may also help wash away some of the tannins stuck to your teeth. 

It may seem counterintuitive, but you need to avoid brushing your teeth right after drinking coffee, as the acidity of the beverage can temporarily weaken your enamel. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing.

Treating coffee stains 

Our dentists use  teeth-whitening treatments with the Opalescence® whitening system to easily remove yellow and brown coffee stains. We offer two options: in-office whitening and take-home whitening. 

In-office whitening costs a bit more but comes with the advantage of having an experienced professional clean and whiten your teeth. Take-home whitening treatments are more budget friendly, yet still effective at getting rid of dental stains. Both systems contain ingredients to protect sensitive teeth during the whitening treatments.

If you want a whiter smile without surrendering your coffee habit, contact our office in San Jose, California, to schedule an appointment.

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