Coffee-Stained Teeth: Causes, Prevention Tips, and Treatment Options

Posted on: 21 August 2015

You may need that cup of joe to get your morning started, but it could be discoloring your teeth. Brown, tan, and yellow stains, especially on the front teeth, are often caused by things you drink or eat. Read on to discover why coffee stains your teeth, along with prevention and treatment tips.

How Do Coffee Stains Occur?

The enamel on your teeth isn't perfectly smooth. It contains microscopic bumps and divots that collect detritus from the coffee you drink. Coffee is full of dark pigments and it is also slightly oily in texture. This texture means it can easily coat your teeth and get stuck in the uneven surfaces. Then, the darker pigments leave behind a stain. Add this to the fact that coffee is also acidic—which means the coffee itself can lightly etch tooth enamel and cause even more bumps and ridges.

Can You Stop Coffee from Staining?

The easiest way to prevent coffee stains is to stop drinking coffee, but that may seem a little drastic to those that depend on their morning (or afternoon) brew. Instead, plan to rinse after you are done with your coffee. For example, brush in the morning after your morning cup, or bring a travel toothbrush or mouth rinse to the office with you to use after you are done visiting the office coffee station. If you tend to drink throughout the day, you can simply rinse your mouth with clear water after each cup. This won't stop all stains, but it will help keep them under control.

Keep in mind that if you have orthodontics in place, such as braces or bridgework, stains may be darker where the devices connect to the teeth. In-depth cleaning around these areas at least once a day is your best bet at keeping staining under control.

Will Regular Dental Cleanings Help?

If you brush often and rinse after each cup of coffee, your regular, twice annual cleanings may be sufficient to get rid of the stains. This is assuming the stains are light and relatively even.

What About Whitening Treatments?

Using a whitening toothpaste daily at home will help minimize coffee stains. At-home whitening treatments may also work to keep light staining from becoming a problem. If you are prone to heavy staining, your dentist can perform an in-office whitening procedure that is stronger than the options you have available at home. For severe stains that won't lighten, which can happen to lifetime coffee drinkers that didn't keep up with their cleaning appointments, veneers are an option. These are small porcelain caps that are adhered to the teeth, giving the appearance of a perfect smile.

For more information on stain prevention and treatment, speak with a cosmetic dentist, like one from Artistic Dentistry by Gerard Wasselle, DMD.