Teeth and coffee

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Coffee Staining: Mechanism, Prevention & Additional Science

While tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, it is not smooth. Chemical and mechanical abrasion create microscopic cracks and roughness on the tooth over time. These spots make great hiding spots for staining chemicals found in one of our favourite beverages – coffeeeeee.

Common Causes of Abrasion

  • Charcoal toothpaste can create microscopic abrasion (other abrasive toothpaste can do this as well)

  • Brushing your teeth too hard

  • Drinking acidic drinks

  • Brushing right after drinking acidic drinks

Polyphenols in Coffee

Coffee contains polyphenols, specifically tannins, which bind to the outer layer of teeth. It is especially hard to remove these tannins on a roughened tooth surface. If you don’t brush away the tannins daily, they coagulate to form an increasingly dark stain. Yes, a lot of dentistry just comes down to brushing your teeth daily. The simple steps are the best steps.

Prevent Staining

Add milk to coffee: dairy and non-dairy milks contain protein which bind the tannins, preventing them from adhering to the tooth surface

Chooseenergy alternatives like matcha tea. Matcha tea is filled with antioxidants and is proven to be a more stable source of energy, without a caffeine high and crash.

Use a re-usable straw. Re-usable to help the environment and straw to prevent the coffee from ever touching your teeth

Regularly change your toothbrush so that you can clean effectively. Electric toothbrushes are great! They require little pressure and have timers built.

Avoid soda, sugary or acidic food consumption.

Get your teeth professionally whitened.White strips, mouthwashes, internet popularized items do work for some people but only modify the tooth shade mildly. A dentist can help reach a higher degree of whiteness in a safer and controlled space.

Other interesting facts about coffee

Estimates suggest that up to 90% of Americans drink coffee each day and between 50% to 60% are addicted. Yes, coffee is a psychoactive drug that impacts our dopamine pathways (the same pathways other drugs fire up to give us a feel-good rush of neurotransmitters).


  • Boosts physical performance

  • Helps burn fat

  • Helps you stay focused

  • Some preliminary studies suggest that it prevents Alzheimer’s

  • Possible anticancer activities (particularly liver and colon)

  • Moderately decreases chances of developing Parkinson’s disease

  • Moderate consumption associated with lower risk of stroke


  • Most commonly consumed psychoactive drugs

  • Can cause insomnia and restlessness

  • Can elevate anxiety

  • Can elevate LDL cholesterol “bad cholesterol”

  • Addictive with withdrawal symptoms

  • Not recommended for pregnant women as caffeine can pass into breast milk

  • Large contributor to plastic waste


1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777290/

2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054058/

3. https://www.scielo.br/pdf/jaos/v22n6/1678-7757-jaos-1678-775720130578.pdf

4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-scoop-on-the-health-benefits-of-coffee-2017092512429

5. https://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j5024

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