Coffee and Teeth: Is Coffee Bad For Your Teeth?

Are you one of the many Americans who need a cup of coffee to start the day? Coffee seems to be an absolute need for some of us to actually wake up. But, is coffee bad for your teeth and gums? Or, is this delicious morning boost doing damage to your oral health?

Coffee's effect on our health has been a major question lately. Some say coffee's bad for your cardiovascular health, others say it's linked to anxiety. It's fair to question how healthy the choice to drink coffee is to our overall health. But, its effects are the easiest to see when you look at your teeth.

What Does Coffee Do To Your Teeth?

There’s a simple rule to every drink: if it stains your clothes, it stains your teeth. The same goes for coffee. Even one cup a day can stain your teeth. And staining is one of the main reasons why coffee is bad for your teeth.

Coffee contains tannins. These ingredients are a type of polyphenol. They break down in water and make color compounds stick to your teeth. So, the tannins in coffee cause that yellow hue on your teeth that’s difficult to remove.

Coffee and Teeth: a Recipe for Tooth Damage?

Coffee stains your teeth. But, does it do any other damage? Is coffee bad for your teeth in general? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. However, whatever damage coffee causes is easily reversible.

Coffee is an acidic drink. This means that it damages your teeth by eating away the enamel. The enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth. It’s a hard substance, but not indestructible. So, coffee and tooth enamel don’t mix well together.

Coffee also damages your teeth the same way any other food does. Especially if you take your coffee with sugar. The food particles stick to the pits and crevices of your teeth, and feed the bacteria in your mouth.

This bacteria is the culprit behind cavities and gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can result in lost teeth and even strokes and heart disease. In short, coffee contributes to much more than simple staining when it comes to your oral health. Luckily, both the staining and the bacteria are easy problems to fix.

Can I Drink Coffee And Not Stain My Teeth? 

Coffee lovers rejoice! There’s still a way to have your daily Cup of Joe and have a pearly white smile. Using simple tricks can help prevent and diminish the staining to your teeth when you drink coffee regularly.

8 Tricks and Advice to Prevent Coffee From Staining Your Teeth

1. Limit How Much Coffee You Drink

If you’re a 3-cups-a-day kind of person, but you’re worried about how coffee stains your teeth, it may be worth limiting yourself to just one. Besides, the recommended coffee intake is just 2 cups/day.

2. Drink Coffee With Milk

Black coffee stains your teeth more. Diluting it with milk can diminish the staining effects of coffee. But if you drink coffee with milk and sugar too, you’ll create a different way how coffee can damage your teeth.

3. Use an Electric Toothbrush

Electric toothbrushes are more effective than regular toothbrushes when it comes to removing coffee stains. If you use a manual toothbrush but you love your daily coffee, it may be worth investing in a different toothbrush.

4. Munch on Crunchy Fruit and Vegetables

Apples, celery, and carrots are natural stain removers. They activate the saliva production in your mouth that helps wash away the tannins of coffee.

5. Drink Coffee With a Straw

Drinking iced coffee with a straw is usual. But, you can drink hot coffee with a straw to diminish the staining effects it has on your teeth. Just be careful. Sipping steaming hot coffee with a straw can cause serious burns.

6. Drink in One Sitting

Sipping coffee throughout the day, even if it’s just one cup, helps bacteria build up. Whereas drinking your cup faster in one sitting minimizes it. 

7. Eat Something Before Your Coffee

Eating a bite or two with your coffee can brace your teeth from the staining tannins. This way the food and the saliva you produce create a buffer between the coffee and your teeth. Besides, even the French drink their coffee with a croissant

8. Brush Your Teeth Right After Drinking Coffee

Although it seems strange, if you truly want to prevent the damages of coffee, you should brush right after you drink it. That’s the most effective way to minimize how bad coffee is for your teeth.

How to Remove Coffee Stains From Your Teeth

Even if you drink coffee with a straw and eat a carrot right after, there’s still a chance that coffee will stain your teeth. And if you do none of the preventive measures, you’re almost guaranteeing that yellow hue on your teeth.

The only way to remove coffee stains from your teeth is to use teeth whitening solutions. These can range from cheap home remedies to effective professional whitening. Here are the most popular ways to whiten your teeth 

Brush Your Teeth With Baking Soda

Twice a month, sprinkle some baking soda (soda bicarbonate) on your toothbrush. This will help remove any color compounds and tannins stuck to your teeth. 

But, be careful with how roughly you brush.

The hard crystals of baking soda can also damage your enamel. And that can do more harm than good. So, be sure to brush gently. Plus, you should only do this twice a month at most.

Use Whitening Toothpaste

Some toothpastes are specifically designed to remove coffee stains. The whitening effects of these could reverse the damage coffee has done to your teeth.

Teeth Whitening Strips Help Reduce Coffee and Other Stains

If baking soda and whitening toothpaste didn’t bring the desired results, you can invest in teeth whitening strips. These are a little bit more aggressive in whitening your teeth. 

However, you need to be careful with the brand and the ingredients of these strips. Cheap teeth whitening strips can damage your enamel even further.

Professional Teeth Whitening Procedures Are the Most Effective

The most reliable way to whiten your teeth is to have a dentist do it. They know how to protect your teeth while restoring their pearly whiteness.

The effects of a professional dental whitening also last longer. While the yellow staining does return if you keep drinking coffee, regular teeth whitening can eliminate this problem best.

Other Drinks That Cause Stains to Your Teeth

Coffee isn’t the only drink that stains your teeth. Apart from water, every drink causes an acidic reaction in your mouth. Though it’s not something you notice, it definitely weakens your enamel. The following drinks also include tannins, that stain your teeth:

  • Red wine
  • Black tea
  • Colas
  • Berry juices (blueberry, blackberry, cherry)
  • Tomato sauce
  • Sports drinks

Keep the Coffee, But Visit the Dentist

Coffee is bad for your teeth. Unfortunately, coffee stains your teeth and eats away the enamel. Yet, many of us still wouldn’t give it up. If you decide to keep drinking coffee daily, you should consider visiting a dentist for a tooth whitening. 

The dentist is the only one that can check how much damage the coffee has done to your teeth. Luckily, oral examinations with the dentist don’t cost that much if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

The Carefree Dental discount plan can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* off your bill per visit in most instances. 

Ready to save BIG at the dentist? Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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