Does Coffee Really Stain Your Teeth?

Does Coffee Really Stain Teeth? Known to boost the immune system, coffee has been said to offer plenty of health enriching properties. However, its teeth staining potential is controversial. To appreciate the staining ability of coffee, one must have an understanding of the structural design of enamel. In my discussion, I'll answer the common questions that my patients ask about coffee stains.

1. Why does Coffee Stain Teeth? The hardest one of the body, enamel is a highly mineralized, translucent tissue mainly comprised of calcium and phosphate ions. The crystal design of enamel is highly organized and under a microscope looks much like the design of a picket fence. In between these rails or enamel rods, are permeable spaces called pores. These pores allow for the transfer of fluids and inevitably the collection of stains.

2. Does Coffee Stain All Teeth Equally? Each tooth has varying levels of thickness, hardness, translucency and staining potential. For this reason, tooth stains can vary from one person to the next. For years, I've been drinking all grains of coffee from Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to my husband's traditionally unfiltered Turkish coffee and I can testify that filtered coffee stains are not quite as intense.

3. Coffee vs. Tea. When it comes to choosing between coffee and tea, remember that coffee is brewed from roasted beans made of seeds whereas tea is boiled from leaves. Further, black teas are more oxidized and richer in flavor and color. In my opinion, teas generally stain teeth more aggressively than coffee. However, these stains are often superficial and can be easily removed during a professional tooth cleaning.

To minimize staining, try using a straw when consuming beverages and refresh with water afterwards. As always, toothbrushing should be done after meals and before bedtime three times daily to maintain good oral health.