Everybody loves to drink coffee, whether as a hot espresso, a frothy cappuccino or as a refreshing iced mocha cafe with sugar and creamer. But nobody loves the stains that coffee leaves on their teeth.
Coffee stains are caused by a compound called tannins, and there isn’t much you can do to reduce their content in your coffee or directly neutralize them. Some people—non-experts, of course—mistakenly believe that adding more cream to your coffee will reduce the staining effect of tannins, but this is simply not true. Lightly colored coffee does not translate into lightly colored teeth.
So here are five things you can do to reduce the effects of tannins, both for reducing the stains currently on your teeth and for preventing more stains from occurring.
Having clean, white teeth all begins with good brushing habits. You already know that you should be brushing twice per day—upon waking and before bed—but you should also take it a step further if you’re a regular coffee drinker. Keep a travel toothbrush and toothpaste with you at work or at school so that you can brush your teeth immediately after your morning coffee. This might be the best thing you can possible do to keep those stains in check.
Also, if you typically rush through your morning routine and only brush for 30 seconds or so, that is a big no-no. The fluoride in your toothpaste requires a full two minutes to properly absorb into your teeth, and whitening toothpastes also need more time to work their magic. So take an extra minute or two when brushing to do the job thoroughly.
This might not be practical with hot coffee drinks, but it will work great for iced coffee. By drinking your coffee through a straw, you almost completely bypass your teeth and send that java on its way to the back of your mouth. The coffee will still make contact with the inside faces of your teeth near your tongue, but the front, outward faces will have less contact with the coffee.
Another tip is to have some hot water with your coffee to wash it down in between sips and when you finish each cup. This helps to rinse the tannins off of your teeth before they can fully cling to them and create stains. It won’t completely prevent coffee stains, but this practice can go a long way to keep those nasty stains from getting worse.
The same concept applies to iced coffee. Have a glass of cold water to go with your iced coffee and wash down each sip, or at least wash it all down when you finish each cup of coffee.
If it’s been more than six months since your last dentist appointment, then you need to schedule a professional cleaning. Be sure to discuss your concerns about coffee stains on your teeth and ask about whitening treatments. There are some good teeth-whitening products that you can use at home — and you should certainly use a reputable one — but there’s nothing quite like having your teeth thoroughly cleaned and whitened by an experienced dental professional.
Some people have overly-sensitive teeth and experience discomfort using certain teeth whitening treatments, so be sure to discuss any concerns you have with your dentist so that you can find the treatment protocol that will work best for you.
There have been some pretty dramatic breakthroughs in dental technology in recent years, and one of the best devices for cleaning stains off of your teeth is the sonic toothbrush. These mechanical toothbrushes scrub your teeth’s surfaces clean using sonic waves rather than traditional brush strokes. The process can work wonders for your teeth, loosening layers of stains and plaque that have built up over the years. It won’t just happen overnight, but with regular use your teeth will begin to improve.
There are a lot of different methods you can use to remove coffee stains from your teeth and prevent new ones from building up. The most important thing is to be consistent with your dental hygiene so that the results have a chance to really set in. Follow these five tips and whiter teeth are yours for the taking.