Newswise — Once maligned as a vice, coffee is a rising star in the health world. Mounting research suggests three to five cups of coffee a day may protect the liver; reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; boost metabolism; and keep the mind sharp, according to a review of research published in General Dentistry, the July/August 2016 issue of the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
But coffee is bad for your teeth, right? Actually, early evidence suggests coffee may be beneficial for your teeth by preventing bone loss in the jaw, and that green coffee and its antibacterial properties may help protect the gums.
Coffee can stain your teeth though, by discoloring the protective tooth enamel as well as resins, which are tooth colored materials used to fill cavities and replace chipped teeth. Rather than being smooth, enamel has tiny holes and ridges that coffee (and other dark drinks or foods) can settle into, causing staining. But there’s no need to walk out of the coffee shop. The Academy of General Dentistry suggests the following tips for reducing the risk of stained teeth so you can enjoy coffee and its benefits:
Sip through a straw – While typically associated with cold coffee drinks, using a straw to drink hot coffee will reduce the amount that touches your teeth. Rinse with water – Drinking or rinsing with water after enjoying your coffee can reduce the risk of staining.Wait to brush – Evidence shows that acidic drinks such as coffee softens your enamel, and brushing your teeth right away can damage the enamel and dentin underneath it. But the effect is temporary. Enamel will start to harden within a half hour of being subjected to acids, so it’s best to wait 30 minutes after drinking coffee, wine, lemonade, or other acidic drinks or foods before brushing your teeth.Try bleaching – A dentist can safely bleach your teeth if coffee (or other substances) discolors your pearly whites. Bleaching doesn’t prevent staining, however, so you may need to have the treatment repeated periodically.
Coffee is worth the extra work because it has so many things going for it, some of which accrue during the roasting stage, said Nasir Bashirelahi, PhD, senior author of the article and professor of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, Baltimore. Some of the health benefits of coffee – which may lower the incidence of metabolic disorders and prevent cell damage – can be attributed to the high chlorogenic acid content, which has antioxidant properties. It features polyphenols, which can prevent cancer and other diseases. And it helps your microbiome (the bacteria in your gastrointestinal system, starting with the mouth) by reducing the bad bacteria, he said.
“Coffee in moderation has many nutritional benefits– five cups a day should be the limit,” said Dr. Bashirelahi. “It is a stimulant, so be sure to stop drinking it early enough so it doesn’t interfere with sleep. For most people, because coffee may help prolong life, the benefits outweigh the risks, such as tooth staining.”
For guidance in protecting your smile while enjoying the benefits of coffee and other healthy foods, find a general dentist near you by visiting www.agd.org.