We probably don’t have to tell you just how popular coffee is. Since about 83% of Americans drink coffee, you and most of your friends are probably coffee drinkers. In fact, the odds are good that you’re one of the 64% of Americans who drink a cup of coffee every day. The combination means that the US is the biggest consumer of coffee in the world, though some other countries may drink more per capita.
While there are many benefits to drinking coffee, it’s also unfortunately true that coffee could be making our smiles look older. While some of the effects of coffee on your smile might be obvious, some of them might take you by surprise.
The fact that coffee stains our teeth is probably not a surprise to you. It seems pretty obvious: coffee is very dark in color, and the same molecules that give coffee its rich color can get trapped in your teeth enamel.
Stained teeth are associated with an older appearance because our teeth start out bright white in color and gradually stain over time. So it’s not surprising that your coffee habit could be making your teeth look older.
There is some good news, though, because coffee is not the worst culprit when it comes to staining. Coffee is acidic, but only weakly so, so it won’t etch your teeth, creating new ridges that can trap stains. Also, if you drink coffee with milk, you can reduce the amount of stains you experience.
Decay and Disease
Unfortunately, coffee can also contribute to your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. And since these oral health problems increase with age, they also tend to be associated with an older-looking smile.
It’s important to understand that coffee itself isn’t bad for your teeth. Some studies even suggest that it might actually improve your oral health.
It’s what we add to coffee that is likely to contribute to tooth decay. About two-thirds of coffee drinkers add sugar to their cuppa joe. On average, they add about three teaspoons of sugar to their coffee each day, which can contribute to developing cavities and gum disease. That’s not too bad compared to other beverage choices. For example, a can of cola has about 10 teaspoons of sugar in it.
Where coffee can get really bad for your teeth is when you buy those fancy coffee drinks prepared at the coffee shop, such as lattes and mochas. These drinks sometimes have a lot of sugar, perhaps 20 teaspoons! If you spend your afternoon sipping one of those drinks, you are providing a steady supply of food for the oral bacteria that excrete acid onto your teeth and gums.
Coffee can also speed the wear on your teeth. Tooth wear is natural, so it’s also something people use to judge the age of a smile. Young people have teeth that have naturally different heights. As we get older, the teeth wear down and tend to be more uniform in height. That’s a feature that we pick up on in an aged smile.
So how does coffee speed the wear on your teeth? Not through acid erosion as other beverages like cola might. Instead, coffee can trigger teeth clenching and grinding. One Finnish study showed that you’re 40% more likely to clench and grind your teeth if you drink 8 or more cups of coffee a day. (We know, that’s a lot, but we also know that you probably have friends who drink that much–or maybe you do.)
This can do more than make your smile look older. Wearing your teeth down reduces the vertical dimension of your facial support. Without proper support, skin can begin to fold and sag, leading to more wrinkles around the mouth, sagging skin under the jaw, and jowls. The principle behind the nonsurgical facelift is that restoring your teeth to their youthful proportions will help your face look more youthful as well.
Rejuvenate Your Appearance
Are you unhappy with the way that your coffee habit is damaging your smile? Let us help restore your smile to its more youthful appearance.
Teeth whitening works great on stains from coffee and other foods and beverages. If you have teeth that are badly decayed, tooth colored fillings can restore them to beauty and help. And don’t forget the powerful transformation possible with a nonsurgical facelift.
To learn more about the power of cosmetic dentistry to rejuvenate your smile, please call (248) 656-2020 today for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at Doolin-Haddad Advanced dentistry in Rochester, MI.