10 Myths, Facts and Stats on Coffee & Oral Health

Photography Fahmi Fakhrudin, Unsplash. Words by Donika Kraeva.

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?”, wrote Cassandra Clare in City of Ashes. And we can almost see all coffee addicts out there affirmatively nodding while reading this. 

Coffee is definitely a favourite energy booster. But how does it influence our general and oral health? DentaVox market research platform surveyed 4686 respondents globally on the topic to check the awareness of popular myths and facts. See what people think and how it compares to experts’ findings.

Coffee can cause yellow teeth: FACT

Ah, yellow teeth. Whether you think it’s an oral problem or not, yellow teeth surely affect the overall appearance of a person. And yes, coffee definitely contributes to tooth discolouration as 89% of DentaVox respondents point out. 

This is mainly due to the polyphenols called tannins that make it easier for colour compounds in coffee to stick to your teeth. 

The high acids in coffee may harm the enamel: FACT

Acids in coffee are yet another enemy of healthy tooth enamel; likely the most harmful of them all. This fact is correctly recognized by the majority of survey participants (85 per cent). 

Food and drink acids soften the enamel, thus making it easier for stains to penetrate through the enamel. Moreover, the high acidity level in the mouth is the main cause of tooth decay. 

Black coffee has antibacterial properties: FACT

DentaVox respondents are hesitant about whether black coffee helps fight bacteria. 

In a recent experiment, researchers from Brazil introduced Robusta coffee extract to grown layers of plaque-causing bacteria on donated baby teeth. The bacteria died. They suspect that the reason for the antibacterial properties of black coffee is again the polyphenols. The “bad guys” that colour teeth are high in antioxidants which offers numerous health benefits.

Coffee increases cholesterol levels: SO-SO

Nearly half of DentaVox interviewees do not think that coffee has a negative effect on their cholesterol. However, this might not be entirely true depending on the type and the amount of coffee you drink.

Large amounts of unfiltered coffee, such as espresso or French press, may increase cholesterol levels. The filtration process removes cafestol and kahweol, both of which are associated with raising cholesterol levels.

Coffee is one of the most dehydrating drinks: MYTH

Although the distribution of answers is quite dispersed, most of the respondents think that coffee is not that dehydrating. 

And this is, in fact, true when we speak of a prepared cup of coffee and not of pure coffee beans. The amount of water in a cup makes up for the dehydrating effects of caffeine. 

Tea is better than coffee in terms of oral health: MYTH

Tea vs. coffee is among the longest battles ever. How do these drinks compare when it comes to oral health? According to 61% of DentaVox survey participants tea is better for teeth than coffee. 

Experts don’t agree entirely, as although tea contains less caffeine than coffee on average, it can stain your teeth even worse. In addition, some tea has an excessive amount of sugar, increasing the risk of developing cavities.

There are ways to protect teeth from coffee stains: FACT

So if coffee has some bad sides but you cannot give it up, can you at least reduce some of its negative effects? Surely. There are numerous ways, for example, to protect teeth from coffee stains, as noted by 76% of interviewees.

Brushing teeth immediately after drinking coffee damages the enamel: FACT

Badly, over half of DentaVox respondents think that brushing teeth immediately after drinking coffee doesn’t damage the tooth enamel. 

No, no, and again no. Please do not do it. Brushing while all the acids from foods and drinks are still on the surface of your teeth and have already softened your enamel harms your teeth even more. Instead, wait for 30-60 minutes before performing your oral hygiene routine. 

Drinking coffee stunts growth: MYTH

The old myth that drinking coffee hinders growth seems to be widely debunked as 68% of  survey participants disagree with it. 

Where does this myth originate from? Some studies show that caffeine leaches calcium from the bones but this amount is so small that the effect of one cup of coffee can be completely neutralized with two tablespoons of milk. 

Drinking coffee increases the risk of depression: MYTH

Although the majority of DentaVox respondents do not believe that coffee may increase the likelihood of depression, over 20% still think so. Where is the truth? 

Drinking coffee can actually reduce depression risk by up to one third, according to a comprehensive new review conducted by Dr. Alan Levitor, a leading researcher in neurology.

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