Is A Coffee Habit Harming Your Teeth?

With coffee shops open again, many are gradually returning to daily visits

Gum disease checkIt is not so long ago that having a coffee outside your own home would invariably mean a mug of ‘instant’ at a cafe, especially if you lived outside the major towns and cities.

These days though, coffee shops are everywhere in the UK; indeed, there are estimated to be in the region of 30,000 of them and they appear to be gaining in popularity by the day.

Coffee shops have been popular in the past and were often frequented by artists and intellectuals. These days they are more accessible to the rest of us and may provide an alternative meeting place for those who don’t wish to drink alcohol, whether for health or religious reasons.

Whilst coffee itself is not directly harmful to our teeth, the speciality drinks and snacks that often go with it, can be.

The ‘problem’ with coffee

As mentioned above, coffee itself will not cause any actual harm to our teeth. It can stain them though and a frequent espresso drinker may find that their teeth become quite badly discoloured over time. This can be treated at the Foxhall Dental Practice by using our popular teeth whitening procedure, but if the staining is too heavy, you may need to consider having porcelain dental veneers fitted instead.

The real issue with coffee is that few of us drink a non sugar version, and indeed, many of the ‘speciality coffees’ offered in these premises are likely to contain very high quantities of sugar. To take just one example, a ‘Mocha Latte’ in one of the well known coffee chain stores, contains 14 teaspoons of sugar, and that isn’t the worst offender! As we add creams and syrups to our drinks, the amount of quantity we consume increases. If we also add a blueberry muffin from the same store, we add another 10 teaspoons of sugar. In total then, one of these coffees and a muffin will give us 24 teaspoons of sugar, an incredible amount. To put it into perspective, a can of coca cola contains around 9 teaspoons, so our coffee habit there is the equivalent in sugar of drinking just under 3 cans of cola.

If this were an occasional treat, we could perhaps let this go as long as we generally look after our teeth well. As we know though, many people do this almost every day, or at least a few times each week and this habit is likely to lead to a great deal of tooth decay and gum disease.

Whilst our Ipswich dental team can help to restore teeth damaged in this way, it is better to be aware of the damage that our coffee habit can cause and make choices that help to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.

Obesity

As obesity and the drive to reduce it is in the news at the moment it is worth looking at how our sugar intake can affect us via our weight. Obesity brings its own health problems, with heart disease being one of the more serious in addition to, it seems, affecting our recovery should we be unfortunate enough to suffer from Covid-19. Obesity also increases our risk of becoming diabetic, and that in turn poses problems for our oral health.

One of the more common problems that we see at our Ipswich dental clinic is that of gum disease. Whilst some of this is relatively minor and can be managed through improved home cleaning and regular professional cleaning by our hygienists, this is not always the case. As gum disease is left to worsen, it starts to not only affect the soft gum tissue, but the underlying bone structure as well. As this becomes damaged, it causes our teeth to become wobbly and loose. Eventually, these may fall out and need to be replaced with an alternative such as a denture or tooth implant. There are treatments that can help to treat this, including root scaling, or a ‘deep clean’. The success of these are not guaranteed though and prevention is a much better tactic.

Diabetes affects our gums in two different ways. Firstly, uncontrolled blood sugar is likely to cause a rise in glucose levels in our saliva. This brings both teeth and gums into almost constant contact with sugars throughout the day. Secondly, high sugar levels can damage blood vessels, including those which allow blood to flow to our gums. Where this occurs, infections and slower healing are more likely.

Whilst we certainly can’t blame all of this on coffee shops, the temptations that they offer do pose a real threat to our teeth and gums if we don’t shop there wisely. Whilst there is, and will be, pressure on establishments such as these to reduce the amount of sugar in their food and drinks, we can always choose the healthier options that are lowest in sugar when we go.

Whether you choose to follow our advice, and we hope that you do, you should still see your dentist every six months for a check up, and possibly more frequently if you are a diabetic. This is important to keep both teeth and gums healthy. We can also help to whiten your teeth again if they have become stained. For more information, please call the Foxhall Dental Practice in Ipswich on 01473 258396.