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Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth? Insight from a Dental Dietitian

An In-Depth Look Into Coffee’s Nutrition, Oral and Overall Health Pros and Cons, Plus Ways to Enjoy Coffee and Preserve Your Teeth

Many people across the US rely on their morning cup of coffee to wake them up and get them going. It’s a daily routine that is engrained in our everyday lives.

In fact, according to the Atlas of American Coffee 7 in 10 Americans drink coffee every week and 62% of Americans drink it every day (1). But, is this daily coffee, bad for your teeth?  Let’s investigate!

is coffee bad for your teeth?  Insight from a dental dietitian graphic

Most people drink their coffee in the morning; however, some consume another one during lunchtime.  Overall, Americans who drink coffee average 3 cups per day. Learn more about coffee facts here.

You may have heard that coffee is good for you.  You may have also heard that coffee can stain your teeth, cause cavities and high blood pressure.  

Well, I’m writing this to help you get some clarity on what that daily cup of joe is doing to your oral and overall health.  Read on to learn coffee’s nutrition, how it impacts your health and ways to enjoy it while keeping your smile happy!

Coffee’s Nutrition Facts

Coffee may not be known as a nutrient dense super drink, yet it does contain small levels of nutrients.  Overall, coffee is not a great source of any macronutrients (carbs, fat, protein).  

A cup of medium black coffee is made up of mostly water, a whopping 95% of the beverage is H2O.  Within that cup of warm caffeinated goodness sits 1-2 calories per 100mL serving, 92mg of potassium, 8mg of magnesium, 0.01mg of riboflavin and 0.7mg of niacin (2).  

nutrition facts coffee benefits per 1 servings of black medium roast coffee
For more nutrition info checkout this coffee site

Yup, if you think these are super small amounts of each nutrient, you are right.  Yet, every little bit of nutrition we sip, bite and digest throughout the day helps contribute to our health, so it’s worth noting. 

On top of coffee’s nutrient facts your daily cup of joe also comes with health benefits that go beyond the nutrition label.  Coffee is a nice source of antioxidants.  

There are many antioxidants found in foods and drinks, coffee contains a specific type of antioxidants, polyphenols (especially tannins).

Antioxidants help reduce stress on cellular level in your body, which helps reduce inflammation and support your immune system.

And of course, you know coffee is a great for caffeine with the average cup containing anywhere from 70-100mg of the wake me up compound. 

Now that you’re familiar with the general nutrition profile of a medium roast cup of black coffee, let’s get into how these nutrients help or hinder your dental health.

Coffee’s Nutrition Dental Health Benefits 

If I had to guess, you’ve mostly heard that coffee is bad for your teeth since it stains it and may even cause cavities.  Well, I will clear up that confusion later on, because coffee has some great benefits for your oral health!

Let’s start diving into the dental health benefits of your morning cup and explaining how each nutrient supports your smile.

coffee and dental health.  oral nutritional benefits of this drink

Potassium

If you’re looking to get strong teeth via nutrition, you need to consume potassium on the reg.  We all know calcium is needed for strong bones and guess what? Potassium helps your teeth absorb more calcium.  This micronutrient helps your teeth in other ways too.  

If you want more in-depth info on potassium food sources and dental health benefits, head on over to my other blog article  “6 nutrients for healthy teeth and gums”.

Magnesium

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium for adults is 400-420mg a daily for men and 300-320mg a day for women (3).  With 1 cup of coffee having just 8mg, it’s not a huge source of this nutrient, but it’s something.

Magnesium is yet another nutrient that helps absorb more calcium into your teeth and on your tooth’s surface on the enamel.  Yup, if you want to strengthen your pearly whites, you want to make sure you’re getting enough magnesium each day.  

Riboflavin

Riboflavin aka vitamin B2 is a water-soluble nutrient part of the b vitamin family.  It helps your mouth in a myriad of ways.  From aiding in healing canker sores to reducing gum inflammation, riboflavin is a critical nutrient when supporting periodontal health.

The recommended daily allowance of riboflavin for adults is 1.1-1.3mg (4).  With coffee having 0.01mg it is a small amount, but something none the less!

Niacin

Niacin aka vitamin B3 is another water-soluble nutrient that is part of the b vitamin family.  This b vitamin also helps manage gum disease as well as support overall management of mouth inflammation.

The recommended daily allowance is 16mg a day for men and 14mg a day for women (5).  Again, here’s another micronutrient that coffee is not a great source of since it contains just 0.7mg. but still helps you inch along in your daily consumption of it.

Antioxidants

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and the ones that seem to have a particular benefit to our oral health are antioxidant polyphenol tannins and phenolic antioxidant compounds chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid.

These specific antioxidants appear to have a positive impact on our gum health.  They work to reduce periodontal inflammation and prevent growth of specific bacteria strains that can harm your gums (6). 

In addition, these antioxidants may prove to be protective benefit when it comes to reducing oral cancer risk.  A study from the American Cancer Society found an inverse relationship between daily coffee drinking and the development of oral cancer (7).  The likely reason for coffee’s positive impact on your mouth health is due to antioxidants ability to fight off free radicals.

Antioxidants may not be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to nutrition since they are not labeled the nutrition facts.  Although, you can be sure you’re nourishing your dental health with these compounds that continually fight for your gum health!

Coffee’s Overall Health Benefits and Cons

Many people are confused if coffee is good or bad for them.  Better yet, they may be aware that coffee has both pros and cons and are trying to figure out exactly what type and how much per day tips the scales from positive to negative health impact.  

So, let’s deep dive into the benefits and cons of constant coffee drinking.

Cardiovascular Benefits

coffee health benefits

You may be surprised to see that coffee consumption helps your cardiovascular health. Yup, it’s often thought that coffee may increase your blood pressure and contribute to hypertension.

On the contrary, a systemic review and meta-analysis from the American Heart Association found that drinking between 3-5 cups of coffee per day helps lower overall cardiovascular disease risk (8).

In addition, another study from the American Heart Association found that habitual, daily drinking of 4 cups of coffee helps reduce heart failure risk (9).

Diabetes Management Benefits

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition conducted a prospective study on 74,749 adults to compare caffeinated versus caffeine-free beverages and type two diabetes risk (10).

The study found that regardless of whether a sugar-sweetened beverage was caffeinated or not it had a negative impact on the development of type two diabetes. Comparatively, caffeinated, or decaf black coffee drinkers were found to have a lower risk of developing the disease.

Cancer Prevention Benefits

As we covered earlier in this post, coffee is loaded with antioxidants. Since antioxidants fight free radicals and promote cellular health, coffee may be a great beverage for cancer prevention.

A 2017 review study from the British Medical Journal found that drinking 3-4 cups per day may help lower the overall risk of cancer development by 18% (12).

Liver Disease Management Benefits

Another reason to enjoy coffee. A prospective study of 500,000 people found that constantly drinking coffee was found to reduce all-cause liver disease. No matter if you drink decaf, regular or instant coffee, all types were found to be beneficial in liver disease prevention (11).

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease Development

Too much caffeine can relax your lower esophageal sphincter which enables stomach acid to travel up into the esophagus. If you are wondering if you can drink caffeine with GERD, contact your doctor.

Caffeine and Negative Impacts On General Body Function

Negative implications from caffeine are often seen in people who regularly drink 6 or more cups per day. When people do this, they may experience rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset, and anxiety.  

Overall

The information provided above is just a snippet of the pros and cons of coffee and health. How you have your coffee and other lifestyle factors also contribute to general health. If you have any questions, contact me!

Coffee Stains Teeth: How? Is That Bad For Dental Health?

Concerned that your regular cup of joe is turning your teeth from pearly white to a darkish brown tint? Wondering if this is just a superficial result from coffee or a sign of something more damaging? Let’s discuss!

coffee stained teeth picture

How Coffee Stains Teeth

As I talked about earlier coffee contains the antioxidant, tannin. Tannins are what cause the yellowing of your teeth. Yes, when you spill coffee on your clothes, those tannins are partly responsible for staining them too!

When you drink coffee (especially black coffee) the tannins encounter your enamel (the outer layer of your teeth, more on that in a bit). Over time, regular drinking of coffee, aka regular expose of tannins to your teeth will cause your pearly whites to yellow.

Is Coffee-Stained Teeth Bad For Your Dental Health?

Okay, so I’m sure you don’t love yellow-ish colored teeth, but does it indicate if something is going on that’s more harmful to your mouth health?

Good news! It seems like coffee-stained teeth are just a cosmetic concern and likely not damaging to your enamel or internal parts of your teeth. If you dislike the discoloration coffee has caused, contact your dentist for guidance on how to resolve this.

Coffee’s Acidity and Dental Cavity Concerns

You may have heard coffee can cause cavities.  In general, it’s not specifically the coffee that directly causes cavities.  Coffee’s pH is to blame for being a contributor to potentially developing cavities.

Black coffee is acidic.  A drink is considered acidic if it has a pH of 7 or lower.  Depending on the type of black coffee you drink it can have a pH ranging anywhere from 4.85 – 6 (13).   For more examples of beverages check out my other blog post Is Lemon Water Bad For Your Teeth?

How Coffee Contributes To Cavities

Black coffee’s low, acidic pH can damage your enamel. Enamel is the thin, outer layer of your tooth. The part that you see and feel when you move your tongue over your teeth. Think of it as your first layer of defense to keeping the inside of your teeth healthy. For a more visual explanation, see the picture below.

picture of tooth anatomy

Acidic beverages, such as coffee can break down this tough enamel layer.  Once enamel starts to break down it becomes easier for bacteria and plaque to penetrate your teeth.  This can lead to cavity formation.

So, it’s not coffee that directly causes cavities, coffee’s low pH causes enamel to erode and makes it easier for other substances to get into deeper layers in your teeth and cause cavities.

How To Raise Black Coffee’s pH

Drinking your coffee black is the best way to ensure that you get all the nutritional benefits from it. However, for some black coffee is an acquired taste. Plus, since black coffee is so acidic you may not want to drink it straight from the pot.

So, here are a few ways you can raise coffee’s pH:

  • Add a pinch of baking soda 
  • Have black coffee cold, or try the cold brew version
  • Add some milk or cream
  • Add some water

PS. I know sometimes coffee needs more flavor than just what’s listed above. Keep in mind adding sweeteners like sugar, syrups and sauces can add calories and excess added sugar to your coffee. The added sugars can have a negative impact and potentially cause cavities too.

So, try to limit adding a ton of sugar-laden sweeteners to your daily cup. Of course, enjoyment is paramount, a sugary sweetened coffee here and there is all good!

How to Drink Coffee and Maintain Mouth Health: Tips

post coffee mouth health tips

Your mouth is amazing! It’s the start of your gastrointestinal tract and is continually coming into contact with foods, air, and drinks from the external environment. Because of that you can certainly consume coffee and still maintain your mouth health.

Just try to follow a few of these tips after you drink it. Doing so will help cleanse your mouth and ensure you are keeping an appropriate pH and helpful bacteria in your oral cavity.

  • Drink water right after you finish your coffee
  • Eat a piece of cheese right after you finish your coffee
  • Sip your coffee through a straw to reduce the acidic beverage from meeting your teeth
  • Drink coffee in one sitting during one time of the day, try not to sip on it throughout the day. This will reduce having a constant flow of acidic drink into your mouth
  • After you finish it, wait 45 minutes to an hour to brush your teeth

Conclusion: Its All About Balance

To wrap it up, it’s all about balance. Yes, black coffee is acidic and can wear down the enamel of your teeth over time. Yes, this can contribute to potentially developing cavities.

On the contrary, coffee has some great oral and overall nutritional health benefits. Plus, so many of us relish that morning cup of joe for the routine, taste, and jolt to start the day.

So, go on enjoy your morning cup, try to follow the coffee and mouth health tips, and remember between a regular dental hygiene routine and a majority healthful balanced diet, all foods can fit.

No, coffee is not bad for your teeth!

no, coffee is not bad for your teeth image

Other Great Coffee and Dental Health Sources

1. https://www.ncausa.org/newsroom/nca-releases-atlas-of-american-coffee

2. https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/coffee-and-caffeine/nutrition-information

3. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/magnesium/

4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/riboflavin-vitamin-b2/

5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-niacin/art-20364984

6. https://rspublication.com/ijphc/2014/june14/5.pdf

7. http://pressroom.cancer.org/HildebrandCoffee2012

8. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.005925

9. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.112.967299

10. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/97/1/155/4577018

11. https://www.verywellfit.com/all-types-of-coffee-protect-against-liver-disease-study-shows-5190859

12.  https://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5024

13. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-coffee-acidic#acidity

Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth? Insight From A Dental Dietitian

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