Studies Show Coffee Decreases Tooth Decay
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages throughout the world with 54% of Americans drinking coffee daily. Most coffee drinkers consume it for the energy boost with little concern about how it can affect their health. However, coffee can have several health benefits, one of the most surprising of which is that it may be beneficial for dental health. The consensus on the oral health effects of coffee has gone back and forth as it is known to cause tooth staining and discoloration. According to recent studies, the one major oral health benefit of coffee is that it can decrease tooth decay.
Benefits of Coffee
This discovery is the result of recent studies in which roasted coffee beans were tested against the main bacteria responsible for tooth decay, S. mutans. These studies showed that coffee has antibacterial effects against the S. mutans that prevent it from being absorbed into the teeth. Coffee beans do not necessarily stop S. mutans from developing, but can significantly reduce the amount of bacteria that adheres to teeth. Four different varieties of coffee beans have been tested for these studies that include roasted Arabica, unroasted Arabica, roasted Robusta, and unroasted Robusta. All four of these samples showed positive results with the roasted samples showing significantly higher activity in preventing the bacteria from sticking to the teeth.
Drawbacks of Coffee
While coffee can help reduce the risk of tooth decay, it still has the detrimental effect of tooth discoloration. Fortunately, tooth discoloration is a minor problem that can be easily reduced or prevented. One way to prevent tooth discoloration is to brush your teeth or drink water immediately after drinking coffee to remove any lingering residue. Drinking coffee through a straw is another way to reduce tooth discoloration because it avoids contact with the teeth all together. Neutralizing the polyphenols, the main staining agent in coffee, can also help prevent discoloration. This can be done by using high fat animal milk in coffee which counteracts polyphenols or by drinking coffee made from Arabica beans because they have a lower content of polyphenols than Robusta beans.
However, even if these actions are followed, it is still possible for staining to occur. This staining can be corrected with home whitening kits or with professional teeth whitening done by a dentist. While coffee can have positive dental health effects in regards to slowing down tooth decay, it can also have the detrimental effect of tooth staining and discoloration. So enjoy your coffee but remember to enjoy in moderation.