Scientists have known for years that coffee has chemical properties that prevent tooth decay. This finding seems to fly in the face of common sense. After all, doesn’t coffee stain one’s teeth? To be fair, yes, coffee can stain a person’s teeth or dentures. The pigment in coffee is dark and can stain many porous surfaces. Those who brush their teeth regularly (two to three time per day) should have no reason to worry about coffee staining their teeth.
As a coffee distributor, I have done my own fair share of research on the world’s second favorite beverage (water comes in at #1). And as a longtime coffee drinker myself, I can honestly say that my teeth feel cleaner when I swish my coffee around my mouth — especially after eating. So how does coffee actually protect teeth from decay? According to a 2002 study from the American Chemical Society (Coffee May Help Prevent Cavities), coffee fights cavities in two ways. First, roasted beans have antibacterial properties that protect against some destructive microorganisms, including Streptococcus mutans, found on teeth. Coffee can neutralize these microorganisms by as much as 98 percent.
And that’s just the beginning. Coffee contains anti-adhesive properties, too. This means the ability for microorganisms to adhere to teeth is diminished. Combine the two properties, and teeth are less susceptible to cavity-causing threats. In fact, many of coffee’s rivals are responsible for cavity causing activity. Carbonated beverages and any others that contain sugar can spell disaster for teeth over time. This includes most of those popular sports and energy drinks. Bacteria in the mouth turn sugar into acids that destroy enamel.
Does this suggest that the more coffee you drink, the more cavity protection you’ll enjoy? Even if that were the case, my tip to you is to enjoy coffee without abusing it. Unless you have heart trouble or are pregnant, you can safely drink several cups each day and enjoy all kinds of benefits. For instance, I’ve read that having six or more cups of coffee per day can reduce a person’s risk of diabetes by an average of 42 percent. I recommend you drink most of your coffee shortly after waking, and at least four hours before bedtime to make sure the caffeine is out of your system. And to maximize the cavity protective properties, give your brew a good swish around the mouth.