Here's What Happens To Your Teeth When You Drink Coffee Every Day

To drink coffee, or not to drink coffee? For most of us, that's not really something we ponder. We either need our daily dose of the stuff in order to function or we pass it up entirely in favor of another beverage — we don't waste time dithering over it. Still, food science is constantly barraging us with confusing coffee advice. It's good for us because it helps keep the weight off, helps us fight off disease, extends our lifespans ... no, wait, it's bad for us because it gives us sleep disorders, mood disorders, heart palpitations, and a huge appetite. Wait, what? Strange are the ways of food science, and coffee is one superfood/supervillain they just can't seem to get a handle on.

One thing that's definitely in coffee's minus column is the effect it has on our teeth. Yes, it can stain them if we drink it over time, but it seems that's the least of the problems our teeth may experience (via Heathline). Dr. Mahnaz Rashti, DDS tells Mashed, "Little do we all know how much damage [coffee] truly causes after drinking it for so long."

How coffee harms your teeth

Dr. Rashti explains that coffee causes bacteria to grow inside the mouth, and these bacteria, in turn, can lead to tooth enamel erosion. This will make the teeth thin and brittle, which is bad enough, but Dr. Rashti also points out that coffee clings to the tongue and causes bacteria to grow there, thus creating the dreaded "coffee breath." Oh, and coffee also causes dry mouth, something Dr. Rashti says is "the leading cause of cavities and tooth decay."

Further exacerbating the cavity-causing is the fact that many of us add ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, and flavored creamers. According to Spoon University, only 35 percent of coffee drinkers take their coffee black, so the vast majority of us pour in sugar and dairy almost daily. Dr. Rashti warns that "these minor ingredients will also increase the rate of cavities," particularly if you sip your coffee throughout the day. Dr. Rashti says this habit "allows for a pool of sugar to be created in your mouth."

How to reduce the dental damage done by coffee

Knowing full well that most of us are not going to give up our coffee habit, Dr. Rashti does offer a few tips for how to mitigate the harm done to our teeth. Dr. Rashti says that it's best to drink coffee in one sitting and then rinse your mouth out afterward. What you should not do, however, is to pick up a toothbrush as soon as you put the coffee cup down. It seems the immediate effect coffee has on the teeth is to soften the enamel, and brushing right away will remove some of this layer. Instead, it's recommended that you wait at least 30 minutes before brushing.

When you do brush, Dr. Rashti advises using a fluoride toothpaste as this can help strengthen and even restore damaged enamel. Dr. Rashti also recommends professional cleaning and whitening if you're concerned about stained teeth. One final piece of advice the doctor had for us was for black coffee drinkers: try mixing in a little milk. As Dr. Rashti explains, "This stains the tooth less than black coffee."