It’s officially autumn, which means it’s the time of year when the smell of pumpkin spice lattes is in the air. While most of us are aware of how sugary these coffee drinks are, many people don’t consider how pumpkin spice lattes impact your teeth. Drinking them in moderation is fine, but consuming them frequently can seriously harm your smile. Keep reading below as we examine how coffee affects your dental health and how you can minimize the damage.
What Does Coffee Do to Your Teeth?
Like virtually any drink besides water, coffee can promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth, especially if you put lots of creamer in yours. When oral bacteria feed on the sugar in the foods and drinks you consume, they leave behind a waste product containing acid that erodes the enamel of your teeth. This process is what causes cavities.
When the enamel is worn away, it exposes more of the layer underneath it, known as dentin. While enamel is often a whitish color, dentin is closer to yellow or brown. The thinner your enamel, the more dentin is revealed, resulting in discolored teeth.
Coffee is also rich in tannins, a chemical also found in tea and wine, that notoriously stains teeth. Even if your enamel isn’t eroded by the coffee, the tannins can still leave stains on the surface of your pearly whites.
Lastly, coffee contributes to halitosis, or bad breath, because of its thick scent and its tendency to stick to your tongue.
How to Enjoy Coffee Without Staining Your Teeth
If you simply can’t give up your morning cup of joe, you can prevent stains and other oral health problems by being smart about your coffee consumption. Limit the amount of sugar and creamer you add to it, as these ingredients speed up bacterial growth. Drinking your coffee all in one sitting rather than sipping it throughout the day can also prevent the buildup of bacteria. If you prefer iced coffee, drink it through a straw so that it doesn’t make as much direct contact with your teeth.
After finishing your coffee, drink a glass of water to rinse out your mouth. Brush your teeth, but wait about half an hour. Since coffee is acidic, not waiting long enough for your teeth to remineralize afterward can weaken your enamel. Eating raw, fibrous vegetables like carrots or celery after coffee can freshen your breath and naturally clean your teeth by breaking down bacteria.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a delicious pumpkin spice latte or two at this time of year. Just keep in mind that moderation is key. Additionally, don’t forget to brush and floss every day and visit your dentist for a checkup twice a year.
About the Practice
At Brown & Nawrocki Restorative and Cosmetic Dentistry, we pride ourselves on providing world-class dental care. Dr. Andrew Nawrocki and Dr. Kimberly Dennis are both dedicated to constantly perfecting their skills with extensive continuing education courses. If you would like to learn more about how you can improve your oral health through your diet, visit their website or call their office at 386-677-1046.