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Why Does Coffee Stain Your Teeth?

Many people rely on drinking a cup of coffee to kick-start their day, but this morning routine can affect your dental health.

If a cup of coffee can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth.

Coffee contains tannins. Tannins are a form of polyphenols that break down in water. They are also present in drinks like wine and tea.

Tannins cause color compounds to linger on your teeth. When these compounds stick to your teeth, they can leave a yellow stain behind.

It only takes drinking one cup of coffee a day to stain your teeth.

8 Ways to Avoid Coffee Stains on Teeth

The most effective way to prevent stained teeth is to stop drinking coffee in excess.

You only have one set of natural teeth, so it makes sense that you will get some discoloration throughout your life.

It's essential to practice healthy oral hygiene. Discoloration can be treated, but severe gum disease and tooth loss cannot.

teeth discoloration

Here are 8 ways to prevent coffee stains on teeth:

  1. Drink a glass of water after your coffee to rinse your teeth and mouth.
  2. If you prefer iced coffee, drink it through an eco-friendly straw to reduce the risk of stains.
  3. Brush your teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste approximately 30 minutes after drinking coffee, and only after rinsing your teeth and mouth with water.
  4. Eat certain foods to help prevent stains. Raw fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and lemons have natural fibers that clean teeth by breaking down bacteria.
  5. Cut back on your coffee intake by drinking less. If you tend to drink more than one cup of coffee a day, try having just one in the morning. 
  6. Avoid creamer and sugar. They speed up the growth of discoloring bacteria and lead to increased risk of tooth decay.
  7. Enjoy coffee in one sitting rather than taking small sips during an extended period to prevent bacteria buildup.
  8. Drink coffee with less caffeine. Less caffeine equals fewer polyphenols and less staining.

Other Oral Health Effects of Coffee

Like any beverage that is not water, coffee can lead to bacteria growth in the mouth. This can cause tooth enamel erosion. Teeth can become thin and brittle.

Drinking coffee can also lead to bad breath or halitosis because it lingers on the tongue.

To avoid these oral health issues, eat food before drinking coffee and use a tongue scraper and toothbrush after drinking coffee.

Does Coffee Cause Tooth Decay?

Coffee is a very acidic beverage, so drinking a lot of it can result in tooth enamel erosion.

Coffee stains do not erode enamel, which is the tooth’s protective outer layer. Substances high in acidity are more likely to weaken the enamel of your teeth.

As the enamel wears away, the dentin layer that coats your teeth is exposed. This results in a darkened yellow or brown appearance. Tooth enamel preserves teeth by protecting them against decay and sensitivity. 

Other Substances That Stain Teeth

Coffee is not the only substance that stains teeth. Other foods and drinks can also leave behind a yellowish stain.

These include:

  • Red wine
  • Berries, including blueberries, blackberries, and cherries
  • Tomato and tomato sauces
  • Colas
  • Black tea
  • Popsicles
  • Hard candy
  • Sports drinks

Does Tea Stain Your Teeth?

Yes.

Tea may be more likely to stain your teeth than coffee because of its higher tannin content.

Many black, green, and herbal teas contain tannins that stain teeth and gums. 

Green tea leaves a grey stain on teeth. Black tea leaves yellowish marks. Even herbal teas like chamomile and hibiscus can cause staining.

How to Remove Coffee Stains From Teeth

Fortunately, there are ways to remove coffee stains from teeth. These include:

At-Home Teeth Whitening Options

Many over-the-counter products can help whiten teeth at home.

Over-the-counter whitening strips, gel trays, and LED whitening kits whiten beneath the surface stains and break up stains in your enamel. 

Whitening toothpastes contain abrasive ingredients that help remove stains from the surface of your teeth.

Whitening mouthwashes contain bleaching agents that can help remove surface stains from your teeth if you use them regularly.

Whitening products that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance are proven to be effective and safe for use.

Coffee drinkers can also use some home remedies to whiten their teeth. For example, brushing your teeth with baking soda twice a month can help whiten them.

Additionally, consider changing from a manual toothbrush to an electric version.

Electric toothbrushes offer more cleaning power than manuals. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes.

Professional Teeth Whitening Options

If you're looking for a more effective and immediate solution, consider professional whitening.

The concentration of professional whitening gel is more potent than that of at-home whitening treatments. This means you will notice instant results.

For some people, tooth whitening gel can lead to temporary sensitivity. Your dentist can take extra precautions to ensure the soft tissues of your mouth don't become irritated.

You may also request at-home whitening treatments from your dentist.

At-home whitening gels prescribed by dentists contain higher concentrations of hydrogen or carbamide peroxide. They also come with custom trays for more effective and comfortable whitening.

Last updated on March 30, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on March 30, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Chung, K T et al. “Tannins and human health: a review.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition vol. 38,6 : 421-64, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9759559/ 
  2. Pandey, Kanti Bhooshan, and Syed Ibrahim Rizvi. “Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in human health and disease.” Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity vol. 2,5 : 270-8, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835915/ 
  3. Mori, Aline Akemi et al. “Susceptibility to Coffee Staining during Enamel Remineralization Following the In-Office Bleaching Technique: An In Situ Assessment.” Journal of esthetic and restorative dentistry : official publication of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry ... [et al.] vol. 28 Suppl 1 : S23-31, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25640880/ 
  4. Liporoni, Priscila Christiane Suzy et al. “Enamel susceptibility to coffee and red wine staining at different intervals elapsed from bleaching: a photoreflectance spectrophotometry analysis.” Photomedicine and laser surgery vol. 28 Suppl 2 , https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20863240/ 
  5. Karadas, Muhammet, and Nilgun Seven. “The effect of different drinks on tooth color after home bleaching.” European journal of dentistry vol. 8,2 : 249-253, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4054058/ 
  6. Epple, Matthias et al. “A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.” Dentistry journal vol. 7,3 79. 1 Aug. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6784469/ 
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