Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth? What The Experts Say

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Sipping on a cup of coffee for most of the day leaves one glaring problem – the yellowing of teeth. While not all coffee guzzlers are guaranteed tainted teeth, staining is a concern that should be kept in mind. Coffee isn’t the only culprit. The tannins from teas, wine, and other drinks are just as likely to buildup and cause discoloration. We’re going to show you how to avoid coffee stains on teeth. We’ll be explaining everything you need to know about this unsightly problem and the other agents that could cause staining.

Why does coffee stain your teeth?

Tannins bind to proteins within the water component of tea, coffee, wine, or other tannin-rich drinks like beer and apple cider. The binding creates a new molecule that is a phenolic fusion between tannin and the protein. Naturally porous enamel absorbs this complex organic compound, piercing through the surface layers of your teeth. Once bound, tannins promote staining because of attracting strongly pigmented colorless chemical compounds called Chromogens. To make matters worse, the chlorogenic acid within coffee erodes enamel if oral hygiene is left unchecked.

How are coffee stains removed from teeth?

Does tea or coffee stain your teeth more?

Don’t be fooled by the color of the drink. Darkness doesn’t determine the degree or likelihood of staining. Leading orthodontics has dispelled the myth that coffee stains teeth more. Current research shows that oxidized teas like your favorite cup of Ceylon are rich in theaflavins, thearubigins, and theabrownins. These molecules which are responsible for the reddish-brown color of tea stain enamel the most. Tea polyphenols have a higher affinity of binding to protein than the tannins in coffee. Only white, lightly oxidized, or green teas have a reduced chance of staining. As coffee roasts, polyphenols are broken down instead of increasing in concentration like when tea oxidizes.

Does coffee damage teeth?

Coffee doesn’t directly damage or stain your teeth. A combination of reactions involving tannins, the state of your teeth’ enamel, and your coffee drinking and oral hygiene habits determine whether you’re susceptible to damage and staining. The acidic nature of coffee is prone to eroding enamel but doesn’t break down the tooth itself. Drinking anything that isn’t plain, pure PH-neutral water increases the risk of bacteria growth. Enamel weakens over time, making teeth brittle and more likely to suffer further dental damage. It is vital to keep your mouth, tongue, and teeth clean throughout the day.

How to avoid coffee stains on teeth

There are several ways to avoid coffee stains on teeth. Cutting down on coffee consumption is the top recommendation but won’t work for everyone. Here’s a look at some of your other options:

Follow up each cup with water – Follow each cup of coffee with a glass of water to rinse the mouth and neutralize acidity. Rinsing after any drink is highly recommended to keep the acidity of your mouth neutral, and free from bacteria-attracting substances.

Limit coffee consumption – Optimally, limit drinking coffee to once or twice a day and clean your mouth afterward. Reduce the number of cups daily if you’ve actively working on removing stains.

Drink a lot of water – Drinking coffee dehydrates while reducing saliva production. This creates an environment perfect for bacteria to breed, increasing the chance of enamel damage and later staining.

Brush and rinse after coffee – While not always practical, brushing your teeth and/or rinsing with mouthwash will eliminate the chance of bacteria and eroding enamel. This means a drastically diminished risk of staining.

Add or increase the milk in your coffee – Milk neutralizes coffee acids which means less chance of eroding and staining.

Incorporate fruits and vegetables for a healthy mouth – Antioxidant vitamins fortify tooth and gum health. Fibrous foods like carrots, celery, and apples increase saliva production and keep your breath fresh. Root vegetables, leafy greens, and cruciferous veggies like spinach, kale, and cabbage, as well as berries, are all fantastic for preventing staining.  Or you can take an all natural, FDA approved supplement.

Upgrade your toothbrush and cleaning routine – Protect your enamel by maintaining top-notch oral health, and there’s little to no chance of staining no matter what you drink.

Schedule professional teeth cleaning – Visit an oral hygienist infrequently for cleaning, and stains can form on your teeth.

Drink coffee through a straw – While not practical for most in any other case than iced coffee, drinking coffee through a straw is the safest way of not getting stained teeth if used over a long-term. It doesn’t touch your teeth but your mouth will still need a rinse to be totally safe.

Does coffee stain your teeth?

How to remove coffee stains on teeth

The best way to prevent coffee stains is to rinse your mouth after drinking anything high in tannin. Removing existing stains can take numerous successive treatments and a lot of time. These are some of the most trusted ways to remove coffee stains on teeth:

  • Use an extra whitening pre-rinse such as this one before brushing your teeth.
  • Regular brushing with whitening toothpaste
  • Brushing and rinse with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste at 2:1
  • Oil pulling using coconut oil
  • Take a natural vitamin and mineral supplement to boost oral health 
  • Light brushing with activated charcoal
  • Eat more high-water foods

Coffee stains teeth myths

Even though coffee does tend to stain teeth if you’re not careful, it still ends up having a rather unnecessarily bad rap. Let’s let truth put an end to coffee myths, showing you the truth behind each old wives’ tale.

Coffee is the worst for staining teeth: MYTH – Oxidized tea, some energy drinks, and certain wines have a higher chance of staining.

Coffee is bad for your teeth: MYTH – Coffee has an anti-carious effect when consumed without additives. Drinking strong roasts without sugar or dairy stops caries from forming which is a primary function of toothpaste in preventing tooth decay.

Coffee stains are irreparable: MYTH – Teeth whitening procedures can reverse staining over an extended period.

Creamer reduces staining: MYTH – Only milk and other acid-neutralizing substances will reduce the extent of damage done to the enamel. Creamer does not affect acidity.

Frequently asked questions about how to avoid coffee stains on teeth

You’ll know everything there is to know about avoiding coffee stains on teeth after reading our piece and going through these frequently asked questions.

If I stop drinking coffee, will my teeth get whiter?

Stopping coffee consumption alone won’t make your teeth whiter. It will stop further yellowing from taking place at the same rate. However, one must remember that discolored teeth exhibit enamel filled with Chromogens. They’re much more susceptible to staining in general. Teeth need to be thoroughly cleaned, and all surface damage attended to reverse discoloration completely.

Will one cup of coffee a day stain my teeth?

Drinking only a single cup of coffee a day may diminish the chances of staining, but it doesn’t guarantee a glowing, white smile. Even one cup of coffee daily can cause staining if there is dental damage or other contributing factors. Heavy smoking or the drinking of high-tannin wines often will make teeth stain quicker. The only way to guarantee stain-free teeth is to rinse your mouth and scrape your tongue after each cup while brushing at least twice a day. 

Are coffee stains on teeth permanent?

If you don’t take action to reverse the discoloration of staining from coffee, tea, smoking, or any other substance, then yes – the damage will be permanent. However, with controlled consumption of coffee and constant good oral hygiene, healthy teeth can be maintained after they’ve been whitened.

 Can a dentist remove coffee stains?

A dentist or oral hygienist can remove coffee stains. It will usually take more than one professional cleaning session, but the staining will whiten in time. Your dentist will remove light stains during your biannual visit, but extensive discoloration and yellowing will need a few cleaning treatments. 

Is it okay to drink 1 coffee everyday?

How are coffee stains removed from teeth?

Your dentist or dental hygienist will need you to come in for a series of treatments to remove most cases of discoloration. Specialized scraping and polishing tools shave away the yellowing enamel. Teeth whitening products are typically prescribed to help finish off the process leaving you with healthy, perfectly white teeth.

Does iced coffee stain your teeth?

Iced coffee can still stain your teeth even though the brew is cold. Cold brewing coffee means that the coffee has brewed for a longer period. The longer you brew coffee, the fewer polyphenols, and less caffeic acid, which means that iced coffee isn’t as likely to stain your teeth. Combine this with how most people drink iced coffee through a straw, and you’re looking at a staining chance of slim to none.

Keep up good hygiene habits to prevent staining

Yellowing, discolored teeth may be a worrying concern for those drinking a lot of coffee. Sadly, they’re usually a symptom of further underlying dental damage. 

A constant dry mouth, excessive plaque and off-white teeth could mean that you need specialized cleaning or treatment. It’s best to consult a dentist if you’re concerned about your teeth or enamel in any way. 

Control the number of cups you drink and keep your mouth clean and you’ll probably never have to resort to deep cleaning or teeth whitening solutions in the first place.