Sep 09 2014

What Your Dentist Never Told You About Coffee and Your Gum Health



Did you know that by visiting our dentist office you can learn more about oral health?  We make it a point to stay on top of advances in dentistry and pay attention to research studies in order to tell our patients about new ways to keep their teeth and gums healthy.  Recently, a study came out of Boston University, which found that drinking coffee is good for your gums.  This is good news for people that don’t want to give up their morning cup of java.  Now you have an excuse to happily drink away.

The author of the study had this to say about coffee drinkers. “They could be muting the body’s own inflammatory processes that normally would be harmful to the gums and the jawbone supporting the teeth,” said Raul Garcia, D.M.D.  The caffeine in coffee can reduce or prevent gum swelling, typically the first sign of gum disease.  As a result, participants that drank one or more cups of coffee a day had fewer teeth with bone loss and were able to retain more of their natural teeth.  This is significant considering that seventy percent of adults lose at least one of their teeth.  If drinking coffee can reduce the risk, it is worthwhile to consider adding a cup to your morning routine.

As a dentist, we always want to know how the study was conducted to make sure that the information is as accurate as possible. This particular study is interesting because researchers observed one thousand men over a period of thirty years.  This is a significant amount of time to monitor someone’s oral health, let alone one thousand people.  During this time, they kept checking to see if there were any differences in the oral health of those that drank and didn’t drink coffee.  The results were clear.  Coffee drinkers had stronger teeth and gums.  Additionally, there were no direct side effects of drinking excessive coffee.  Doing so didn’t make teeth bleed or create additional oral health issues.

Since the benefits likely come from the caffeine inside of coffee; tea drinkers should also see the benefit.  We recommend that people try caffeinated green tea since it is less likely to stain teeth or make them yellow.  Drinking coffee will stain your teeth.  Fortunately, we provide teeth whitening services so that coffee drinkers can benefit from their daily dose of caffeine without the unintended side effects of yellow teeth. 

It is important to note that while coffee can decrease the risk of gum disease, people that drink coffee need to take additional precautions to avoid other health challenges.  For example, coffee can make a person dehydrated, so it is important to drink more water than normal.  Additionally, if cream and sugar are put into the coffee, it can increase the risk of cavities.  Brushing and flossing throughout the day can help. 

While coffee can improve oral health, it is not a substitute for regular teeth cleanings.  We recommend that patients visit our dentist office at least twice a year to have bacteria and plaque removed from their teeth and gums in order to prevent all types of oral infections.

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