How Coffee Helps You Fight Off Caries

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How Coffee Helps You Fight Off Caries

By Lucy Wyndham

 

Coffee is a daily necessity for some of us, especially here in Lebanon. On average, we drink 4.8 kilograms of coffee per person per year, the highest coffee consumption in the Middle East – but you might be worrying about the impact your morning cup can have on your dental health. Your diet has a significant impact on the surface health of your teeth and your overall dental health, so it’s a good idea to check up on the health impacts of anything you’re worried about. Luckily, drinking coffee in moderation actually has a positive impact on your dental health: studies show that coffee without additives inhibits caries-causing bacteria from adhering to your teeth at a rate as high as 98%.

What Coffee Does For Your Smile

Despite recent discussions about the health hazards of coffee, it’s actually a net positive for your bodily and dental health. Coffee is typically consumed roasted and then either brewed at home or bought from a coffee shop, which is ideal – roasted coffee shows the highest benefit to dental health. Medium-roasted coffee has the maximum level of antioxidant activity as well as antibacterial activity, even preventing the caries-causing bacteria Streptococcus mutans from clinging to your teeth. This is due to compounds that form in coffee during roasting that don’t form otherwise, such as melanoidins, polymers that form at high temperatures in food. People who regularly drink coffee have less risk of caries because of the antibacterial properties as well as having whiter teeth than those who don’t. But with all those benefits, there are, of course, a few caveats.

How To Capitalize On The Benefits Of Coffee

Despite the fact that coffee drinkers generally have whiter teeth, drinking coffee carries a risk of staining. The tannins in coffee can cling to your teeth and discolour them slightly, similar to other staining agents like wine or cola-based soda drinks. Toothpaste additives such as d-limonene have no effect on coffee staining, but cosmetic procedures for tooth bleaching allow consumption of staining foods without the resultant stain. Despite the staining concern, coffee is best consumed with no additives in order for the antioxidant and antibacterial properties to be maintained. Milk alone doesn’t impact the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of coffee, but combined with sugar or artificial sweeteners, those properties are minimised. By adding sugar or sweetener, you’re impeding the benefits of coffee and increasing the possibility of tooth decay.

Contrary to what you might think, drinking coffee regularly is actually good for your teeth! While there’s some risk of staining when you have a cup of coffee, that’s not a big problem. Like everything, coffee should be consumed in moderation, but a few cups a day will do you – and your teeth – good.

 


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