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How to drink coffee without staining your teeth

February 18, 2021
How to drink coffee without staining your teeth

A morning coffee is one of life’s little joys for many people, and an energising kick-start to the day in our busy world. But it’s a well-known fact that a regular coffee habit can stain your teeth, leading to discolouration and yellow teeth down the track.

But are coffee stains permanent, and is it possible to reduce or prevent coffee from discolouring your teeth? Read on to discover our tips and tricks for drinking coffee without staining your teeth.

Happily, coffee stains on your teeth aren’t permanent, and can be removed with a whitening toothpaste or a professional whitening treatment from your dentist or orthodontist.

It’s largely the tannins in coffee that cause teeth to discolour. Tannins contain organic compounds called polyphenols that contribute to coffee’s rich flavour and deep hue. However, these compounds can penetrate and stick to our porous and uneven tooth enamel, causing staining and yellow teeth. While coffee can also stain the clear plaque on our teeth – leading to brownish stains – this type of discolouration can be easily brushed away. However, enamel stains are more difficult to remove, and will require a professional whitening treatment.

Given that you can’t remove traditional metal or ceramic braces without a trip to the orthodontist, coffee lovers (and aficionados of other tannic beverages including tea and red wine) will need to proceed with caution. It’s still possible to drink coffee with braces, but you’ll need to be extra vigilant about rinsing your mouth with water immediately afterwards.

You’ll also need to thoroughly clean your teeth to avoid the tannins from potentially staining both your teeth and the components of your braces.

Thankfully, even if any components of your braces become discoloured they can be easily replaced as necessary and will be removed safely at the end of your orthodontic treatment. Just remember to wait 30 minutes before brushing, as the acid in wine may soften your tooth enamel and increase the risk of erosion if you brush straight away.

With clear aligners such as Invisalign®, Spark® and 3M Clarity, it’s essential to remove the trays before you drink anything except for cold water – especially for heated beverages such as coffee. Hot liquids can warp the plastic of your clear aligners, impacting their fit and reducing their ability to effectively straighten your teeth. The pigment in coffee can also stain the clear plastic, making them more visible to the naked eye.

Finally, drinking liquids such as coffee or tea – especially with added sugar – without removing your clear aligners will trap the sugar and acid against your teeth, eventually damaging your tooth enamel and increasing your chances of tooth decay and cavities. However, drinking cold water with your aligners in is fine.

There are a number of simple ways to prevent coffee from staining your teeth. These include:

  • Drinking coffee from a straw.
  • Rinsing your mouth with water immediately afterwards.
  • Diluting your coffee with extra milk.
  • Limiting your coffee intake.

Tea may potentially be worse for your teeth than coffee, as it contains higher levels of acids and tannins. Iced or brewed teas are equally bad when it comes to staining your teeth. Keep this in mind when the 3 p.m. slump hits and reach for a refreshing glass of fresh water instead.

More information

For more information on what you can and can’t eat with braces, visit this article here.

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