Bad Beans: Why Coffee Can Hurt Your Smile (and What You Can Do About It)

by MikeMeehan 9/29/2016 3:56 PM

Each morning, entering the office, I fetch my “Good health starts here” travel mug and pour myself some coffee. To me, the habit isn’t entirely out of choice — read: excruciating caffeine withdrawals otherwise — but the antioxidants and beneficial nutrients in coffee are certainly a perk. The benefits to drinking coffee are many. Coffee can: Improve brain function and heart health Boost metabolism Lower risk for diabetes, dementia, cirrhosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease Be a good source of nutrients like riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin Provide antioxidants like hyrdocinnamic acid and polyphenol (In fact, one study listed coffee as the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet.) Unfortunately, coffee and teeth don’t go well together. You might even say coffee has stained its reputation with teeth. Why Coffee Stains Teeth If you were to magnify the tooth — enough to see the enamel — you’d discover a tooth isn’t made up of a single piece of enamel. It’s made up of many enamel rods. And we mean many: One tooth can contain anywhere from 5 million to 12 million enamel rods. On the surface of the tooth, the rods run parallel to one another, but deep down, they wind together. As it pertains to coffee — imagine enamel rods like bristles on a brush, just crystallized (because an enamel rod is a tightly packed mass of hydroxyapatite crystals). Now, imagine coffee seeping between the bristles. That’s kind of what happens with teeth, except it’s the pigment from coffee embedding itself in the rows of enamel rods. The pigment is responsible for the discoloration. And, unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t stop there. More Bad News If you prefer your coffee hot, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Hot drinks tend to discolor enamel over time, as the temperature changes cause teeth to expand and contract slightly. This can make it easier for dark stains to penetrate between enamel rods. And no, it doesn’t help if you’ve lightened the color of the coffee with creamer and sugar; the coffee still contains the same pigments. Stains don’t just apply to coffee, either. For example, tea, red wine and soda can also stain teeth. In fact, some tea — like green and black tea — can stain teeth worse than coffee, because it contains higher amounts of tannins. Tannins are chemical compounds known for having a calming effect, but they also get stuck between enamel rods. So what does this mean for your future with coffee? If you’re like me, giving up coffee isn’t an option — read: excruciating caffeine withdrawals. Luckily, you have some other options. Five steps you can take include: Five Steps You Can Take to Lessen Coffee Stains Drink through a straw. While the amount of sugar in your Starbucks Frappuccino is nothing to smile about, the straw it comes with might be. Drinking through a straw lessens the contact of coffee with your teeth, and can cut down on staining. Rinse your mouth after you drink coffee. By rinsing your mouth out with water, you can neutralize your mouth’s pH levels. You can also use antibacterial mouthwash to loosen up particles on the teeth. Wait 30 minutes before brushing. It’s a good idea to wait 30 minutes after drinking coffee before brushing. Otherwise, you’ll dig acids deeper into your enamel. Have a brushing routine. Brushing and flossing twice a day can cut down on tooth stains. Schedule a professional cleaning once every six months. Your dentist can polish away built up stains, brightening your smile.         Coffee can be hard on the teeth. But it can be even harder to give up. And with September 29 being National Coffee Day, we don’t want to downplay the real benefits of drinking coffee in moderation. So wake up, smell the coffee and take the steps you need to protect your smile.

Six ways to reduce the effects of sport drinks on your teeth

by MikeMeehan 7/22/2016 4:33 PM

Summer is here and that means getting more outdoor exercise like walking, hiking and biking. To quench their thirst, many people turn to sports drinks, but may be unaware of the harm that these beverages can have on teeth. The acid levels of sports drinks can cause damage to teeth by softening tooth enamel and exposing the softer material underneath. When tooth enamel becomes damaged, teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, and more vulnerable to cavities and tooth decay. Since tooth enamel can’t be regrown, its loss is irreversible. Sports drinks may be needed to replace electrolytes after long, high intensity workouts, but for light to moderate exercise, water is still the best drink for rehydrating. If you do reach for a sports drink, follow these tips to minimize the effects on your teeth: Dilute with water to reduce concentrated sugar levels Drink out of a straw to minimize contact with teeth Drink in moderation Chew sugar-free gum after drinking to increase saliva flow, which helps return acid levels to normal levels Rinse your mouth with water to keep excess drink from collecting on teeth Wait 30-60 minutes before brushing, since the toothbrush could spread acid around the mouth and cause further damage to teeth These tips will help keep your oral health in shape as you work towards improving your overall physical health through exercise.

Savor Your Health, Consume Smart

by Noelle Reinhold 3/23/2016 2:32 PM

It is said that you are what you eat. And, for some that’s a pretty scary thought – especially after just downing another large value meal from a fast food establishment, simply because it was convenient.... more...


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