Later this month, the seasons officially change from summer to autumn. With that change often comes cooler weather, and for many of us that may mean a warm cup of coffee or tea to start our day or help keep us energized throughout. But what does all that coffee and tea actually do to our teeth? Fortunately, your Overland Park dentist has the answers you need to enjoy your favorite beverage without hurting your teeth too much.
For starters, yes, coffee and tea stain your teeth. They will also stain your shirt if you spill a little on yourself on the way to work, but the way they stain your teeth over time is different. Here’s why: Coffee and tea both contain tannins. These tannins come from the coffee beans or tea leaves themselves and break down in water. When these compounds come into contact with your teeth, they leave behind that yellowed tint that you associate with stained teeth.
Unfortunately, it may take as little as a cup a day to cause these stains, so it’s important to brush and floss regularly and to see your Overland Park dentist for cleanings and check-ups. You can also ask about teeth whitening options if you feel your smile is no longer as bright as it could be.
In fact, tea actually contains more tannins than coffee, meaning that it’s more likely to stain your teeth, even though we may be quicker to think of coffee as the culprit.
Different types of tea are more or less likely to cause staining. Your dentist can give you a list of which types are most damaging to your teeth, but a good rule of thumb is that the darker the tea, the more likely it is to stain. Given that 80% of people who drink tea in America drink black tea, it just makes sense to check with your dentist about helping to keep your smile as bright as possible.
Staining isn’t the only danger presented by some of our favorite beverages, either. Sweetened coffees and teas contain sugars that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, while coffee is generally acidic, which is bad for the enamel of your teeth.
Coffee and tea aren’t the only culprits that can stain your teeth. Everything from balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to red wine, blueberries, grape juice, tomato sauce, and pretty much any dark-colored drink can leave behind an unwanted stain. Basically, if it’ll stain your carpet, chances are it can stain your teeth.
What’s a coffee lover to do as the weather turns colder and that steaming mug becomes more and more inviting? Don’t panic! Sometimes, your Overland Park dentist can remove coffee, tea, or other stains as part of your biannual cleaning. Failing that, teeth whitening options are available either in your dentist’s office or at home. To keep your smile looking and feeling its best, just make sure you schedule regular appointments at Watts Family Dental by calling (913) 338-3384 today!