For years the standing wisdom has been that drinking coffee isn’t the best thing we could do for our teeth. While this is probably true when talking about the highly sugared, cream-filled concoctions you get from Starbucks, there’s new evidence hinting that coffee may not be the culprit. While coffee is a naturally acidic substance, that acid can be offset with a little care after we enjoy a cup. The newly discovered properties of coffee suggest that the harm caused to your teeth may be outweighed by the potential benefits.
Coffee, as we know it today, has been being consumed since the 1200s
How Coffee Can Help Your Oral Health
When we produce coffee using roasted coffee beans, we also benefit from the antibacterial properties inherent in the resulting brew. While the number of bacteria it is effective against is limited, one of the most important to your oral health is Streptococcus mutans, one of the central culprits in cavities. Not only does it actively reduce the amount of S. mutans in your mouth, but it also has the ability to prevent them from adhering to your enamel. These two properties make coffee very effective in preventing cavities. Different types of coffee appear to have different levels of efficacy against this molecule.
- Ground Coffee – Ground coffee has the lowest effectiveness in preventing the adhesion of these bacteria to the teeth.
- Instant Coffee – In an unexpected turn, instant coffee has been revealed to be more effective than ground coffee.
- Caffeinated vs. Decaffeinated – The studies revealed that the presence or absence of caffeine has no effect on the degree of adhesion resistance provided.
The component of coffee that seems to have a direct impact on the level of protection offered is trigonelline. Being responsible for both the aroma and the depth of flavor your cup of coffee has, there’s a reasonable argument that can be made that the better tasting the cup of coffee, the more effective it is in protecting your teeth.
Coffee is also a good source of four B Vitamins, Potassium, and Manganese
How Coffee Can Harm Your Teeth
In spite of the benefits covered above, there are some dangers to your teeth when drinking coffee. One of the most prevalent risks is the high acidity level of coffee. The acidic nature of the drink means it poses a threat to the enamel on your teeth and can soften and decay your dental enamel. This same acidity is why many people add sugar or creamer to their coffee, which unfortunately does nothing to reduce the risk it poses to your teeth. You can best take advantage of the benefits to your teeth by ensuring that you drink water after finishing your cup of coffee to eliminate the acid. Cheese has also been known to be an effective way of neutralizing coffee if you don’t have water available.