Dental Advisory – Caffeine Addiction

A Downham patient asks us about his fondness for coffee.

Coffee consumption has risen in the UK over that last few years. This patient from nearby Downham queries whether this could be a problem for his dental health.

Q. For years I mainly drank tea, but with the rise of the coffee chains, I have been unable to resist the smell of coffee and regularly drink several cups a day, including my first one on the way to work each day. I probably need to think about cutting down though as I have noticed I get a bit irritable if I go too long without one. A friend of mine has also told me that coffee is bad for your teeth. That doesn’t seem right to me but thought that I would ask the experts.

Hello and yes, it does seem that you can’t walk more than a few hundred yards these days before coming across a coffee shop and I’m sure that most of us have been tempted in by the aroma wafting from the doors. There are various arguments about the benefits and harm of coffee, with some claiming that too much caffeine is bad for the heart, and others that it protects the liver and other organs too. As to the truth of that, it is not really our place to say, so I will address your specific question as to how it affects your teeth and gums.

To the best of my knowledge, coffee itself will not have a negative impact on your teeth and gums. That does not though, entirely exclude problems that can be caused by aspects of coffee drinking.

If you drink regular coffee without sugar, probably the only likely issue you may have, especially if you are a heavy coffee drinker, is that it may well cause staining of the teeth. From what you have said, it does sound like you do consume a lot of coffee, so, if your teeth are looking a bit discoloured, this may well be a factor. We can, of course, re-whiten your teeth with our professional teeth whitening procedure and I would be happy to discuss this with you, should you be interested.

A more serious issue relating to your coffee drinking, is what you drink. Some studies have found that some of the more ‘extravagant’ coffee drinks available in some cafes are actually significantly higher in sugar than, for example, in many fizzy soft drinks. This is a major concern as sugar has long been known to be detrimental to oral health, with tooth decay high on the list of risks. My advice to you would be to avoid these drinks, which typically may contain syrups, caramel and chocolates, and to stick to regular coffees such as ‘americanos’ and ‘cappuccinos’, or, if to your taste, ‘espresso’ (all preferably without sugar of course).  It is always a good idea to have some water too, as this will help to minimise dehydration, itself a contributor to gum disease.

If you haven’t seen a dentist at the Cygnet Dental Practice in Essex for some time, and want to put your mind at rest about any potential problems your coffee drinking may be causing, why not make an appointment by calling us on 01268 733078 where we can examine your teeth and gums and also discuss whitening your teeth should you wish to explore this option. We look forward to seeing you.