The Harmful Effects Of Caffeine On Teeth

Our teeth get stained due to extrinsic or intrinsic causes.

Extrinsic or surface stains are caused by the food we eat and drink like tea, coffee, colas and other soft drinks, wine, smoking etc.

Intrinsic stains are caused by excess exposure to fluoride, use of tetracycline when young, trauma to the teeth or rare illnesses.  

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a crystalline xanthine alkaloid, white in color and has psychoactive stimulant properties.

It is present in many beans, fruits, and plants and is an ingredient in many foods and beverages we consume.

Caffeine has the ability to act as a stimulant in humans, helping to restore alertness in a person who is fatigued and drowsy.  

Foods High in Caffeine

Caffeine is present in coffee beans, soft drinks, chocolate, cocoa, and tea.

It is also included in non-prescription medications like pain relievers and certain allergy medications.  

All types of coffee, tea, chocolates, candies that contain cocoa or coffee, energy drinks like Red Bull, carbonated beverages like colas, soda pop, soft drinks, liqueurs, chocolate, and cocoa mixes contain the highest levels of caffeine.  

The Harmful Effects Of Caffeine On Teeth

Caffeine has the ability to stain teeth.

Coffee and tea are dark colored drinks that can cause pigmentation to form in the microscopic pits and ridges on the porous enamel.

If proper oral hygiene is not observed, these can cause yellow stains and lead to the formation of plaque and tartar.

While some say that adding milk to coffee or tea can reduce stains, it will not completely prevent them since you are still consuming caffeine.  

Black tea, in fact, is said to cause worse stains that even coffee.

Coffee is high in chromogens but has low tannin content.

Tea, on the other hand, has higher levels of tannins that cause intense stains.

Colas and sports drinks contain caffeine and are acidic and high in chromogens.

The acid content in them is similar to battery acid and can soften teeth allowing greater chances of staining.  

If the colas are dark and very cold or if the coffee or tea is very hot, teeth contract and become porous and stain easily.

Preventive Measures

Most people cannot do without their morning cup of coffee or tea and very often sip some throughout the day to relieve stress and to remain alert.

Instead of abstaining, remember to rinse your mouth and brush when possible after each cup to reduce the possibility of staining.

Regular visits to the dentist and using whitening toothpaste or other OTC whitening products like whitening strips and gels can also remove these stains.  

Using a straw to consume colas and soft drinks also reduce staining from the front teeth.

Do not keep taking small sips of coffee or tea throughout the day or keep a can of soda or energy drink next to you and keep sipping slowly, swallow swiftly and this prevents foods that stain from lingering in the mouth for too long.

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