As a former barista with many years of experience in the coffee industry, I’m often asked if drinking coffee can stain your teeth. The short answer is yes, coffee can absolutely cause tooth discoloration over time.
The good news is you don’t have to ditch your beloved brew to maintain a dazzling caffeinated grin. By following some simple tips and pro tricks, you can keep enjoying coffee without leaving lasting stains on your teeth.
Read on for my top professional advice on how to drink coffee smartly while keeping your smile looking its absolute whitest. With a few adjustments to your routine, you’ll protect your teeth while continuing to sip your favorite roasted beans guilt-free.
How Does Coffee Stain Teeth?
Coffee is highly pigmented, meaning it contains compounds that can cling to your tooth enamel and cause staining. Two of the main culprits are tannins and polyphenols. Tannins give coffee its bitter taste and dark color. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in many plant foods and beverages, including coffee. While polyphenols are beneficial compounds, they also readily bind to teeth.
Over time with consistent coffee consumption, these substances can penetrate into the microscopic grooves and pits in your enamel and produce stubborn brown stains. Coffee stains may start out very light, but can darken and become more pronounced the longer they set on your teeth.
Darker roasts tend to be more highly pigmented and therefore have greater staining potential. However, any type of coffee can lead to discoloration, even milk-lightened café au laits. Tea, another popular caffeinated beverage, can also stain teeth for similar reasons.
10 Ways to Prevent Coffee Teeth Stains
The good news is you don’t necessarily have to give up your beloved brew to keep your pearly whites. With some simple tips and small tweaks to your coffee routine, you can still enjoy the drink without yellowing your smile. Here are my top barista-approved recommendations:
1. Skip the Frappuccinos and creamers.
Stick to black coffee or coffee with just a splash of milk or cream. The more additives you put in your coffee, the greater risk for staining as things like chocolate or caramel can cling to teeth. Sugar also provides extra food for the bacteria that can cause plaque buildup.
2. Drink coffee quickly; don’t sip it all day
The longer coffee sits on your teeth, the more time it has to penetrate the enamel. Down your morning cup within 30 minutes, then thoroughly rinse with water.
3. Swish water after drinking coffee
Make it a habit to swirl water around your mouth after finishing your java. This instantly washes away excess pigments and prevents extended contact time with your teeth.
4. Brush after your last coffee of the day
Give your teeth a gentle brushing to remove any coffee residue after your final afternoon or evening cup. Use a soft bristle toothbrush and toothpaste approved by your dentist.
5. Drink coffee through a straw
Sipping your brew through a straw prevents the front surfaces of your teeth from constant exposure to pigmented compounds. Just be sure not to chew or bite the straw!
6. Use whitening toothpaste
Look for a toothpaste that contains gentle polishing or bleaching agents specifically formulated to remove surface stains from teeth. Using it twice a day helps fade existing discoloration over time.
7. Get professional teeth cleanings
See your dentist for regular dental cleanings and polishing treatments every 6 months. This thoroughly removes staining from all tooth surfaces and also detaches deeper deposits of coffee-stained plaque.
8. Consider in-office whitening
For more dramatic brightening, you may want to get professional tooth whitening done at your dentist’s office. In-office procedures use higher concentrated peroxide gels and special curing lights to safely bleach away years of accumulated stains. Results are often several shades whiter and long-lasting with touch-up treatments.
9. Drink coffee in moderation
While limiting total intake may seem obvious advice, it’s worth emphasizing. The more coffee you drink, the more opportunity for pigments to stain your teeth. Try cutting back to just 1-2 cups per day.
10. Rinse with baking soda and water
Baking soda is a natural teeth whitener and mild abrasive that can help scrub away surface stains. Add a teaspoon to water and rinse your mouth with the solution every few days. Be gentle though as overuse can damage enamel over time.
Keep Sipping Smartly
While it’s true that coffee can lead to tooth discoloration over time, there are many preventative steps you can take to drink your favorite caffeinated beverages stain-free. As a former barista and coffee expert, I recommend being mindful about how you drink coffee and utilizing teeth-brightening remedies like whitening toothpaste and professional cleanings.
Sipping through a straw, swishing with water, and brushing after your last cup of the day will also keep your smile looking freshly bright. The occasional in-office whitening treatment can provide a boost as well. By following these tips, coffee lovers don’t have to compromise their pearly whites for their daily brew.
Stay committed to a smart coffee and oral care routine and you can confidently keep on sipping your morning, noon and night cups with a shine-free smile. Keep these barista-approved recommendations in mind and your teeth will stay naturally white and glistening – java stains not included!