Is Coffee Really Bad For Your Teeth?

Whether you like it absolutely black or sweet, strong or creamy, coffee is a daily staple most of us can't imagine life without. Given how much I drink every day (#5CupClub), I had to find out: is coffee really bad for teeth? Turns out, the answer isn't as black and white as cafe au lait.

I like good news better than bad news, so we're starting with that. Coffee drinkers rejoice, because It turns out coffee has some surprising benefits for oral health! According to a study at Rio De Janeiro's Federal University, coffee with a high caffeine content (like Robusta) can actually fight plaque. The high content of polyphenols destroys bacteria on teeth. The only catch is that you have to drink coffee black for the polyphenols to be effective.

Coffee can also keep your gums and jaw healthy, too. Raul Garcia, DMD, told Men's Health how drinking coffee could help protect you from periodontal disease, which causes inflamed gums. He explained that the antioxidants in coffee "could be muting the body’s own inflammatory processes that normally would be harmful to the gums and the jawbone supporting the teeth." Yay, coffee!

But on the flip side, coffee is dark brown and will sadly stain your teeth. Health even claims coffee stains on teeth are even more resistant than tobacco stains. Ugh.

Fortunately, there are ways to counteract the stains between deep cleanings at the dentist.

1. Whitening Strips

If you don't have particularly sensitive teeth and gums, whitening strips are a great resource for removing stains at home. Try out a few brands to find your favorite!

2. Hydrogen Peroxide & Baking Soda

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Combine a tablespoon of baking soda with about 1/2 a teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and mix into a thick tooth paste. Brush your teeth with it for two minutes, and be sure to really brush the stained areas well. Rinse your mouth with water afterward.

3. Lemon Juice & Baking Soda

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If you don't have hydrogen peroxide on hand, swap it out for a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and follow the rest of the instructions. #SoEasyItHurts

Image: Flamingo Images/Fotolia; Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images, Jack Taylor/Getty Images