Is Coffee Good for Oral Health?

May 08, 2019 4 min read

For many of us, there is nothing better than a nice cup of joe to get the day flowing in the morning–it’s a universal habit. And unless you are one of those rare individuals that has a coffee allergy, or simply find the taste of coffee repulsive, you probably are enjoying a cup or two (maybe three!) to help get you through the day.

But it sure is frustrating how science has gone back and forth over coffee’s purported health benefits! Nevertheless, due to its rich antioxidant content, coffee is generally considered beneficial to your overall health.

But did you know that it could also be particularlybeneficial for your oral health?

The Downside to Coffee?

Yes, coffee can negatively impact your oral health, and your overall health for that matter. Excessive coffee consumption can elevate your blood pressure due to the caffeine content. Consistently high blood pressure significantly increases your risk of heart attacks. But this can be avoided as long as you do not exceed the recommended 400 milligrams of caffeine daily limit. Depending on the caffeine content of the coffee you consume, this roughly means not having more than 4 to 5 cups of coffee in a day.

Some other “downsides” to drinking coffee are that it stains your teeth and elevates the acidity in your mouth. Coffee contains tannins that break down in water and tend to stain your teeth. Coffee also encourages the acid production in your mouth, from bacteria, and this can damage the enamel of your teeth over time unless washed away.

What Are the Benefits to Drinking Coffee?

Right now, you’re probably wondering: “How about the upside to all of this?”

Well, according to a study published in the first quarter of 2009 of the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, coffee consumption can actually help prevent cavities. Evidently, coffee has antibacterial and anti-caries (anti-cavity) properties.

Aside from lowering your risk of developing cavities (dental caries), a more recent study published in the October 2014 issue of Nutrients, an open access journal by MDPI, also suggests that coffee can also help support periodontitis treatment. This is particularly true for the “maintenance phase” of periodontal treatment. This is likely because coffee contains antioxidants that help prevent the inflammation of your gums. In fact, a study conducted by a Brazilian university found that high-caffeine coffee can actually deter the formation of plaque because the polyphenols in the coffee seem to destroy bacterial growth on teeth.

An important note is that these beneficial properties are reduced, or negated entirely, when ingredients such as sweeteners and creaming agents are added. So, in order to maximize the cavity-fighting properties of coffee, it’s best to drink it black.

Other Health Benefits of Coffee

Of course, coffee drinking also beneficially impacts your health in other ways as well.

Interestingly enough, coffee may also be beneficial to probiotics. According to a study published in the March 2009 issue of the International Journal of Food Microbiology, moderate coffee consumption actually has a beneficial impact on the population of Bifidobacteria in your gut. Moreover, the probiotic strain, Bacillus coagulans, has the ability to survive in hot drinks (such as coffee), so taking that particular type of probiotic supplement with your hot cup of morning java is totally possible.

A September 2018 article published in Healthline, outlines numerous health benefits associated with coffee consumption such as lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, liver cirrhosis, dementia, and cancer. Aside from antioxidants, coffee also contains nutrients such as vitamins B2, B3, and B5, as well as manganese and potassium.

The caffeine in coffee also helps your body burn fat, as well as enhances your overall mood.

Another interesting twist is that despite how the caffeine in coffee can increase heart rate and blood pressure, drinking coffee may actually slightly lower your risk of stroke.

Good Coffee Drinking Habits

Now, that’s all well and good. But in order to “maximize” the benefits from coffee drinking, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Limit your coffee intake to 400 milligrams, or about 4 cups (5 cups tops)
  • Drink your coffee black, or at the very least with as little sweetener as possible
  • Consider drinking brewed (or even cold brew) coffee over instant coffee
  • Choose “quality”, and if possible, go “organic”
  • Hydrate and drink some water in order to ameliorate the diuretic effects of caffeine

And, just to be clear, a tall caramel-mocha latte with 12 pumps of flavoring and whipped cream is NOT a healthy choice (and is really much more of a dessert than coffee).

So, Should You Drink Coffee?

There is definitely truth in the old adage, “everything in moderation”. Meaning that any of the downsides to drinking coffee can largely be avoided by not overdoing it. As long as you stay well-within the recommended level of coffee consumption (and go easy on the sweeteners and additives), you can reap the rewards of this delicious and healthful concoction! And your teeth and gums will thank you for it!


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