Getting that first whiff of coffee in the morning can be the thing that gets us up and going, but did you know it may be helping brighten your smile as well? Certainly, the flavorings, sugar, and cream that you add to your morning repast aren’t going to help your teeth, but the coffee bean itself holds a surprising secret. Once you account for the additives, the acidic nature of coffee, and proper dental hygiene, this little brown bean may be helping you keep a beautiful smile.
Eight centuries of tradition make coffee one of the oldest recognized non-alcoholic drinks.
Coffee: Uplifting Drink and Warrior Against Decay?
As it turns out, roasting your coffee bean has further reaching results than you might expect. Sure it enhances the flavor of the bean and brings out that flavor we all love, but more is happening on a chemical level than meets the eye. Deep within the bean, the heat is releasing hidden antibacterial properties that make it effective against a small range of bacteria. What’s important is that, including in that range, is the Streptococcus mutans bacteria. This is the one responsible for doing all those horrible things to your teeth. Not only does it prevent this bacteria from adhering to your teeth, but it also slows the creation of biofilms like plaque.
- Ground Coffee – Scientists were surprised to learn that ground coffee, while the most common, is also the least effective at providing this protection.
- Instant Coffee – Additional research revealed that instant coffee seems to provide more antibacterial effects than traditional ground coffee.
- Caffeinated vs. Decaffeinated – The amount of caffeine in your cuppa doesn’t seem to play a role in its effectiveness against decay-causing bacteria.
The magical element in coffee that makes all this possible? Here’s a hint for coffee fans. The richness of smell and flavor of your coffee can be directly attributed to this enzyme. If you answered trigonelline, congratulations! If you also gathered this means that the better your coffee smells and tastes, the better it is for your teeth, then you get a gold star for coffee knowledge.
While it does have antibacterial properties, coffee is quite acidic; clean your teeth after drinking.
It’s Not All Delicious Brews and Heightened Energy
There are some well-recorded benefits of drinking coffee when it comes to our oral health. Add that many people really need that morning cup of coffee to get going, and it’s important to remember the risks as well. The acid in coffee is significantly strong and can put us at risk of cavities by softening our dental enamel. Mix sugar and cream into the mix, and you’re just asking for more trouble than benefit from your drink. This means that you need to be certain to rinse your mouth after drinking your coffee. Even better, take a moment to brush your teeth. If you’re an all-day coffee drinker, have a glass of water for every cup of coffee you drink, and swish it around a bit. It’s not a perfect solution, but it will help get the remnants off your teeth.