Americans love their coffee, and 54 percent of American adults drink coffee at least once a day. What's more, the average coffee drinker consumes more than 3 cups of coffee a day. As such, it's important to understand the effects this popular beverage can have on your oral health. Find out if your daily cup of coffee is good for you, and learn more about the side effects this popular drink could have on your health.
Coffee and cancer
A study by the American Cancer Society discovered a link between regular coffee drinking and a lower risk of mouth and throat cancer.
Researchers looked at the amount of tea and coffee consumed by people who took part in a cohort study that the American Cancer Society started in 1982. Examining the details of nearly one million people in the study, the researchers found that those who drank more than four caffeinated cups of coffee a day were 49 percent less likely to die from this type of cancer.
This benefit comes from the antioxidants, polyphenols and other compounds that appear naturally in caffeinated coffee. As such, people who drank decaffeinated coffee did not see the same benefits. That aside, the researchers were keen to stress that other risk factors could influence the results. For example, if you drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, your tobacco habit could still put you at risk.
Black coffee and tooth decay
Poor dental hygiene and a bad diet are a lethal combination for your teeth. When harmful bacteria develop and thrive in your mouth, tooth decay and gun disease can soon cause problems, but a strong cup of black coffee could help you in the fight against this problem.
Research suggests that black coffee can actually help you cut the risk of tooth decay. Scientists in Rio de Janeiro used a special coffee extract on baby teeth. The researchers discovered that the coffee extract could break down the bacterial biofilm on teeth that could eventually lead to decay. While the study was not fully conclusive, the researchers believe that the antioxidants in the coffee were able to break down the unwanted bacterial layer.
Nonetheless, before you get too excited, it's important to understand that coffee may also cause harm.
The protective enamel layer on your teeth is durable, but you may not realize that this material is not naturally flat and smooth. If you were to look at the enamel under a microscope, you would see that the layer contains tiny pits and ridges. Unfortunately, these areas can easily collect particles of food and drink. Regularly cleaning your teeth can help prevent permanent damage, but some materials cause stains more quickly than others.
Coffee is a common cause of stains on teeth. The naturally dark color of the drink quickly stains the pits and ridges in your enamel, and if you drink several cups of coffee a day, stains can soon develop. A whitening toothpaste can help, but you may need to talk to your dentist about stronger treatment options for darker stains. It's also a good idea to rinse your mouth or chew sugar-free gum immediately after you drink black coffee.
Sugar and spice – not so nice
Coffee drinkers often like to experiment with special drinks, especially at Christmas or Halloween. At these times of the year, coffee shops often offer seasonal drinks that they load with sugar and syrups that can harm your teeth.
The World Health Organization recommends that the average adult should not have more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. Unfortunately, some coffee shop chains load up large coffee drinks with the equivalent of 18 teaspoons of coffee in special varieties. While an occasional treat probably won't hurt, people who regularly drink these special beverages could significantly increase the risk of tooth decay as a result of all that extra sugar.
A cup of coffee can have positive dental health benefits, but it's important to consider any unwanted side effects you may also incur. Talk to a dentist at a clinic like Family Dental Care for more advice about the best way to drink coffee without negatively affecting your teeth and gums.