No one likes yellow teeth – the unsightly color is a picture of bad hygiene, and when your smile is off-color, it seems like your confidence goes down the drain too. While many things stain your teeth, coffee is one of the biggest culprits. From the first time coffee touches your teeth, it begins to stain even if it isn’t clearly visible yet – however, are these stains permanent?
Coffee does not permanently stain your teeth. While they won’t go away independently, coffee stains can be erased at home or by professional whitening treatments. If the staining has reached deeper into the teeth, it can take a few more treatments than average to erase it.
In today’s article, I’ll be talking about why coffee stains your teeth and how to erase those stains and get your teeth back to a brilliant white. Let’s get started!
Why Coffee Stains Aren’t Permanent
Coffee stains aren’t permanent because the coffee only stains the enamel, not the actual tooth. Enamel acts as a protective coating over your teeth and is built to be able to be cleaned. While the stains get absorbed into the enamel, getting your teeth back to white is usually as simple as letting the enamel soak in some bleaching agents.
At times it can take more than whitening treatments to get your teeth back to normal. If the stains are intense, you may need to have a dentist give you a bonding treatment. This is done by fusing material to the stained areas of your teeth to change their coloration.
What Causes Coffee To Stain?
Coffee staining happens because of a substance called tannins. Tannins are naturally occurring in many plants, which is why you also see beverages like black tea produce the same staining effect on your teeth.
Even if the tannins aren’t directly staining your teeth, they open the way for other things to stain them. Tannins attract all sorts of things and allow them to stick on enamel. This includes proteins, sugars, carbohydrates, bacterial cell membranes, and enzymes within the mouth.
While teeth seem really hard at first glance – or touch – they actually operate similarly to your skin. Teeth are porous. This means when you consistently expose them to beverages with tannin and other staining agents, they seep into the pores on the teeth, leaving you with yellow or brown discoloration.
The good news is that because your teeth are porous, they can also be cleaned relatively easily. In the same way that the teeth absorb the tannins, they also absorb the whitening agents.
Can Coffee Permanently Stain if You Drink It Too Often?
If you drink coffee for many years without going through whitening treatments to remove some of the stainings, then sometimes you won’t completely eliminate the discoloration. You’ll still be able to remove a fair amount, but sometimes over time, the staining can go too deep, and it can be near impossible to remove entirely.
However, it’s tough for extrinsic stainers, such as coffee or tea, to permanently stain your teeth, even if it’s drunk daily for many years. Intrinsic stainers, or stains that come from inside your body, are much more likely to stain permanently.
Sometimes if you’re repeatedly attempting to remove a stain without any luck, you’re dealing with an intrinsic stain instead and just don’t realize it upfront. If the color is from coffee, it should at least lessen.
How You Can Remove Coffee Stains From Your Teeth
There are a few different ways to remove coffee stains from your teeth. If you prefer not to have any harsh chemicals on your teeth, you can use more natural methods such as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. For a more efficient response time, you can try over-the-counter whitening treatments.
You may need to visit your local dentist for staining that isn’t responding to standard whitening treatments.
Let’s go into a little more detail about each of these processes.
Natural Ways to Remove Teeth Stains
There are two primary ways to remove coffee stains naturally. Let’s get into each one.
Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide
One of the best ways to remove stains naturally is with good old hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. These two items have long been used as stain removers and odor eliminators, and nothing that works quite as well without added chemicals.
This doesn’t take a lot of either ingredient. The goal is to create a runny paste. Essentially, you’re just making your own toothpaste. You’ll want to mix about two drops of the hydrogen peroxide with about ½ teaspoon of baking soda. You may need to add a bit more baking soda to get it to the right consistency.
Once made, just brush your teeth as usual. Use this paste as often as you would like. There are no harmful side effects from overuse.
Oil pulling, usually done with coconut oil, is another way to whiten your teeth naturally. This method doesn’t work quite as well as applying baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, but it does whiten your teeth over time.
This is because coconut oil is an antibacterial agent. If you remember, I mentioned a few paragraphs ago that coffee tannins open the door for other things to stain your teeth. Bacteria is one of these things. The coconut oil covers your mouth in a protective coating, making it difficult for bacteria to grow, lessening the staining over time.
To use this method, simply place about a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for between two and five minutes. It can be challenging to adjust to oil pulling initially, but it becomes easier with time. It also has a number of other benefits beyond whitening your teeth.
You can learn more about oil pulling from a first person perspective, you can take a look at this interesting YouTube video:
Using Whitening Agents
At-home whitening agents come in two forms – strips or gel. Before we start on this section, I’d like to note that whitening agents make your teeth more porous. It’s essential to stay away from coloring agents for at least a few days after whitening; otherwise, your teeth will appear more yellow than when you started.
Whitening gel typically comes with the gel and a tray that you place over your teeth. To use the gel, you’ll first brush and floss your teeth. Then you’ll apply the bleaching gel in your tray and place it on your teeth. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely with whitening gels.
Whitening strips are overall easier to use than gel. They’ll come prepackaged in sets – one for your bottom teeth and one for your top row of teeth. Simply peel the back off the strips and apply the gel side to your teeth. Leave them on for the recommended time, and then remove them.
Usually, whitening agents are only used for the first six or eight teeth along the front row rather than the whole mouth. This is especially true with gel.
Professional Whitening Treatments
Professional whitening treatments always produce the fastest results. They’re also the safest form of bleaching you can do on your teeth.
If you decide to visit a dentist to remove the staining, you can expect a preliminary office visit where you first get a mouth exam. The dentist will likely take x-rays and photos of various teeth.
When the procedure is actually performed, the dentist inserts a cheek retractor so that all your teeth are exposed. Then they place a protective resin on your gums so they don’t get irritated by the gel. Afterward, the bleaching gel is applied and left on for about thirty minutes. Once the gel has completed its job, it’s suctioned off, and you’re good to go.
You may have to return to the dentist for more than one whitening treatment depending on the severity of the stains. Given that office visits are significantly more expensive than at-home treatments, costs can add up fast with this process.
How Can I Prevent Coffee Stains?
There’s no way to prevent staining completely, but there are quite a few things you can do to limit the amount of staining you experience.
One of the best ways to encourage stains not to stick to your teeth is to drink water. Water is cleansing for your teeth and your body, and you’re benefiting both by drinking lots of water! Water will work to wash away many of the tannins that get released as you’re drinking your coffee. You can also swish with water after.
Another thing that you can do to help prevent staining is to brush and floss after drinking your coffee. While it’s commonplace to brush your teeth first thing in the morning, it will do more to prevent stains if you brush after your morning coffee. If you’re an all-day coffee drinker, you can keep a travel toothbrush handy and simply do a quick brush after your afternoon cup of joe.
Does coffee permanently stain your teeth? Not usually. It’s almost impossible for coffee to cause a stain that can’t be removed by professional whitening.
However, if you are only doing at-home treatments, then sometimes there will be stains you can’t altogether remove. Most often, though, a simple whitening treatment will do the trick!
If you want to lessen the effects of tannin on your teeth, make sure you balance out your coffee drinking with water and brush and floss often.