From innovative, single-cup makers to the overwhelming variety of unique flavors and serving methods, coffee has become more than a ritual to get yourself going in the morning. Considering the average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee each day, it is easy to see the desire and need for this favorite beverage. Unfortunately, drinking an excessive amount of coffee each day can wreak havoc on your smile's appeal and underlying oral health. While many problems are treatable, it is important to understand the dental dangers of coffee. Using this guide, you will understand the various ways excessive cups of coffee affect your mouth, teeth, and gums and learn the best options to treat or repair the damage.
Dental Damage of Coffee
One cup of coffee each morning will not damage your teeth permanently, but drinking multiple daily cups over time can affect your smile. Here are a few obvious and surprising ways coffee affects your teeth and gums:
- Stains – The dark pigments of coffee will stain your teeth over time. Coffee will stain your teeth whether you drink it black or add cream and sugar to lighten it, so consider decreasing the number of cups you drink each day to reduce your risk of severe discoloration.
- Erosion – In most cases, you drink coffee for its caffeine, which can give you a quick boost of energy. Unfortunately, excessive caffeine erodes the enamel of your teeth, resulting in cavities, tooth decay, infections, and losing one or more teeth. If you drink coffee with sweeteners or sugary creams, you may also increase the severity of the erosion.
- Discomfort – If you drink coffee throughout the day, you may have difficulty sleeping at night. These bouts of insomnia can cause you to grind your teeth while resting or sleeping. Known as bruxism, clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth is damaging to your mouth, teeth, and gums, leading to discomfort and numerous oral health problems.
- Dry Mouth – Consuming large amounts of caffeine will decrease your body's natural saliva production. Since a warm, dry mouth is appealing to germs and bacteria, decreased saliva can lead to heavy buildup of plaque and bacteria. A dry mouth can also cause foul breath.
Treating the Dental Damage
If you must consume excessive amounts of coffee, try and drink through a straw. This will decrease direct contact to your teeth and gums. Or, rinse out your mouth by drinking a glass of water after each cup of coffee.
However, to treat the permanent damage to your teeth, you will first need to reduce your coffee intake. Then, visit your cosmetic dentist for the following treatment options:
- Whitening – If you are experiencing severe staining, consider a professional whitening treatment. After conducting a complete cleaning and exam, your dentist will utilize a special bleaching agent to whiten your surface enamel. Afterward, an innovative light will be used to brighten your new white color.
- Fluoride – Restoring lost enamel is not always possible, but your dentist can protect your teeth from further damage using a fluoride application. In addition, your dentist may suggest a bonding agent to fill deeper areas or eroded enamel.
- Cavities and Decay – If you are dealing with one or more cavities due to your love for coffee, your dentist will need to remove the tooth pulp and bacteria before filling with a bonding agent. Severely decayed teeth will need to be extracted before restoring the smile with implants, bridges, or dentures.
Giving up your favorite beverage may not be an option, but it is smart to reduce the amount of cups you drink each day. Using this guide, you will have a better understanding of the dental dangers associated with excess coffee consumption and learn how to treat or repair the damage.