Many people cannot live without a daily dose of coffee to jumpstart the day. In fact, the British drink approximately 70 million cups of the energising beverage per day.
While a cup puts morning smiles on drinkers, it can make their smiles less brilliant. This is because coffee is notorious for staining teeth; the millions of those who drink it every day often get asked by the dentist whether they drink coffee, most likely because of their noticeable staining.
How Coffee Stains Teeth
The colour in coffee comes from intensely pigmented molecules called chromogens, which have an unfortunate fondness for latching onto the teeth’s enamel.
The presence of the chromogens is not the only thing that boosts the staining potential of coffee; acidity is a factor as well. Coffee promotes staining by eroding the enamel. This then temporarily softens the teeth, making it easier for chromogens to stick onto the tooth surface. Tannins, a family of food compounds also found in coffee further boost the ability to of the chromogens to attach to the enamel.
Because the enamel contains microscopic ridges and pits (it is not flat and smooth, contrary to what many think), it is easy for substances to become embedded on the teeth.
According to a dentist at AURA Centre of Dental Excellence, if the proper steps are not taken, it can cause permanent yellow stains.
How Teeth Whitening Helps
Giving up coffee is the best way to prevent stains, but for most people, this is not an acceptable solution. Fortunately, a dentist can help.
Dentists can remove many of the surface stains for a whiter smile. Some dentists provide professional teeth whitening procedures, which involve making custom trays and using substances like hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. The chemicals whiten the teeth through an oxidisation process, which then helps break down stain molecules.
While patients can try the do-it-yourself route and use over-the-counter whitening kits instead of going to the dentist, practitioners still advise patients to go to the professionals. They warn that people who use DIY kits might be risking a range of health problems.
Coffee fanatics do not need to give up the drink altogether — they can simply dial down the stain by regulating their intake and visiting the dentist regularly.