Skip to main content

Is coffee bad for teeth? Dentists explain how you can keep your pearly whites healthy

Is coffee bad for teeth? What dentists want you to know about your favorite morning habit

a close up of tons of coffee beans
Igor Haritanovich/Pexels / Igor Haritanovich/Pexels

Is coffee bad for teeth? You may not want to know the answer, preferring to “Hear no evil, see no evil.”

After all, drinking coffee can be a lifeline during the morning grind. Even studies show coffee consumption can have significant benefits. A 2021 study showed that drinking coffee could decrease stroke and dementia risk. Another published in the same year found coffee consumption could lower a person’s chance of heart failure.

According to the National Coffee Association, this research is all good news for nearly two-thirds of Americans (62%) who drink coffee daily.

However, what does that mean for your pearly white teeth? Coffee has long been linked to discoloration and staining, but is the rumor true? We asked dentists. Let’s sink our teeth into their responses and learn more about preventing discoloration should you choose to keep your coffee habit.

man in blue sweater making cup of coffee
Igor Haritanovich / Pexels

Is coffee bad for teeth?

The short answer is yes — sorry.

“Coffee is heavily acidic, which can actually work to weaken teeth over time by causing them to be more brittle and susceptible to tooth and enamel erosion,” said Dr. Nicole Mackie, a Las Vegas-based prosthodontist and founder of Dental Implant Specialty Center. “Enamel erosion can lead to tooth discoloration, sensitivity and also has an increased risk of cavities.”

two cups of coffee being made at a shop
Chevanon Photography/Pexels

Does coffee stain your teeth?

Another yes. Regular coffee consumption will stain white teeth, turning them darker colors like yellow.

“Your teeth have tiny pores just like your skin,” said Dr. Lauren Becker, a Manhattan-based general and cosmetic dentist. “The dark color of the coffee, which comes from tannins, penetrates into the pores leaving behind intrinsic stains. This means the stains can’t be removed just by removing what’s on the surface.”

Ron Lach/Pexels

How long after you drink coffee should you brush your teeth?

You should wait about 30 to 60 minutes, Dr. Becker says.

You may think brushing ASAP after drinking coffee will help protect your pearly whites from the beverage’s acidity, warding off erosion. You may also hope your swift action prevents staining. However, you’ll actually exacerbate the effects of the acidity if you brush too quickly because you’ll spread the acid around. (If you put sugar in the coffee, you’ll spread that around, too, speeding up tooth decay.)

“Due to its high acidity, you want to wait to brush for 30-60 minutes post-consumption,” said Dr. Becker.

One note: Consider brushing your teeth after consuming coffee rather than before. Once the 30 to 60 minutes have passed and it’s safe to brush, doing so will help reduce erosion and decay risks.

You may find waiting 30 minutes — let alone a full hour – challenging, mainly if you drink coffee for the jolt more than the bitter taste. You may also want to prevent coffee breath.

Dr. Mackie suggests chasing coffee with water.

“Rinsing your mouth with water will help wash away any leftover coffee particles and reduce the amount of time the coffee pigments have direct contact with your teeth,” Dr. Mackie said. “This is important to mitigate the potential risk of staining.”

For best results, Dr. Mackie suggests:

  1. Finishing your cup of coffee.
  2. Take a few sips of water.
  3. Swish.
  4. Swallow.

“This will help dilute and remove any leftover coffee residue,” Dr. Mackie said. “Drinking water in general and staying hydrated can promote saliva production, which plays a very important role in maintaining oral health as well.”

happy man drinking coffee and smiling at work
Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Is there anything people can do regarding their coffee habits to reduce staining and impact their dental health?

You want white teeth, but you don’t want to stop drinking coffee. The problem is not a fun one to have. However, Dr. Becker says you can have your coffee and keep your teeth healthy, too.

“I’m not a monster, so I would never say, ‘Don’t drink coffee because it’s bad for your teeth,’ to my patients,” Dr. Becker said. “I say go for it, but make sure you are taking proper care of your teeth to avoid erosion and staining.”

What does proper care mean when for coffee and teeth? Dr. Becker and Dr. Mackie shared their top tips.

Add milk

Not a fan of black coffee? You may be doing your teeth some favors when you add milk.

“The lighter the coffee, the less the stain, so milk helps,” Dr. Becker says.

The reason? Milk serves as a diluent.

“[Milk] will reduce the concentration of coffee pigments that come into contact with your teeth,” Dr. Mackie said. “By adding milk to your coffee, you decrease the intensity of the staining potential.”

Use a straw

This tip may take some time, but your teeth will be glad you tried.

“Drinking coffee through a straw limits the contact time of the liquid on your teeth,” Dr. Becker said.

Remember the basics

Some of the best ways to protect against tooth enamel erosion, decay, and other issues stemming from coffee are the foundation for good dental habits.

“It is important to practice good proper hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice daily and regular dental cleanings, typically performed every six months,” Dr. Mackie says.

Go further

If some damage has already been done, you might need to up the ante on your at-home dental routine to tackle stains.

“At-home whitening strips can help mitigate some of the stain as well as professional take-home whitening kits from the dentist,” said Dr. Becker.

Finally, a dentist can help you reduce the appearance of staining with in-office treatments.

“I treat many patients with stained teeth who desire a whiter smile with in-office teeth whitening treatment where we apply a professional-grade bleaching agent to the teeth while using a laser to activate its dramatic teeth whitening properties,” Dr. Mackie says. “It’s generally the quickest and most effective way to achieve noticeable results in just a single visit.”

Talk to your provider if you’re concerned about the effects of coffee on your teeth to devise a game plan.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Try these 10 best mustache waxes for better facial hair
Enhance your look with these fantastic mustache waxes
Man waxing his mustache

The world of facial hair is diverse and ever-growing... Literally! With more men caring for their hair and skin than ever before, it makes perfect sense to take better care of your facial hair. Whether you want a magnificent mustache of champions or you simply need to tame your unruly 'stache, you can definitely use one of these fine mustache waxes to keep your mane under control.

Often pomade-like in terms of consistency and made from ingredients like beeswax, think of a mustache wax as a grooming tool for your face — a way to shape and style your facial hair. Many a great mustache over the years have benefited from the addition of a stylish touch of mustache wax, which also helps in making your facial hair healthier in the process. If this sounds like something worth trying out, check out our list below of the best mustache waxes for all your facial hair needs.

Read more
The 9 best beard styles for bald men: Follow these Hollywood leading men
These beards are the perfect complement to a bald head
Jason Statham

Every man has their own fears whether they be full-blown phobias or something small that makes them lose sleep at night. One of the biggest fears amongst all men, especially as they age later in life, is the fear of losing their hair. Some have been blessed with Brad Pitt hair genes, others, let's just say, not so much. So what should you do if you're the latter? We say, own it. Take that razor to your dome and rock your baldness. The best part is that you won't be the only one to do so. Instead, you’ll be jumping on the bandwagon itself.

Luckily, so many of Hollywood’s leading men have been embracing this trend and making bald beautiful and donning the best beard styles for bald men. They have been setting the pace, showing the rest of us exactly how you can rock the bald look yourself, and with the proper products and gear, it’s easier than ever to be bald.

Read more
The best shampoos for men for healthy and happy hair
Want to see your hair look and feel more alive? Then find your match on this list of the best shampoos for men
Man washing hair in the shower.

If you want a head of hair that not only feels nice but looks amazing, it all starts with having a great shampoo. The starting point for establishing your hair care routine is shampoo because it has the biggest effect on your hair's look and health. Finding the right shampoo and, just as importantly, finding the right hair care routine will be more impactful than anything else you do for your hair.

There are so many different types of shampoos available, so it's challenging to find the best one for you. We made this list to help you narrow down the field. We've picked the best shampoos for men for each particular category of hair.

Read more