It’s a beautiful day to be a coffee lover, because guess what? Your cup might be good for your teeth. And with almost 54% of adult Americans drinking coffee daily, that’s excellent news.
You may, however, think that this is a little too good to be true. After all, some have noted that coffee could adversely affect your teeth through discoloration, feeding harmful bacteria, and causing bad breath. Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the full story. While all these ill-effects do occur with an excessive intake of coffee, if consumed in moderation, coffee might cause more good than harm.
Here’s a brief rundown of the benefits coffee might have on your teeth.
Coffee might have antibacterial attributes
Previously, we touched on the relationship between cavities and bacteria. In this article, we noted that germs feed on the teeth’s calcium, thereby weakening these areas and causing them to collapse. Fortunately, Dental News notes that roasted bean coffee had “antibacterial properties that can keep cavity-causing microorganisms (such as streptococcus mutans) at bay.”
Arabica and robusta particularly have the anti-adhesive ability, which stops the buildup of plaque on your teeth and gums. And with less aggressive bacteria in your mouth, the less likely your risk of tooth decay.
To get the full impact from coffee, however, you must drink the right type. Otherwise, much like overconsumption, the coffee you drink might serve to harm the enamel rather than protect it. That said, you may want to be on the lookout for low-acid varieties, such as darkly roasted coffee. They have more antioxidants than other types and are less likely to harm the teeth. It’s also interesting to note that some Scandinavian countries get most of their antioxidants from coffee.
To get its maximum benefit, Dental News suggests drinking the coffee black without sugar or cream, sweetening slightly with stevia according to preference.
Coffee could help battle oral cancer
Aside from cutting down any cavity-causing germs, regular coffee-drinking might even protect you from certain kinds of oral cancer. One study noted that coffee drinkers who take four or more cups each day had half the risk of death by oral cancer as compared to non-drinkers. This statistic may be due to coffee’s components. Aside from its antioxidant content, coffee also contains polyphenols, which fend off free radical damage.
But what is free radical damage, and how does coffee help stop it? Free radicals, in a nutshell, are atoms looking to pair up their electrons. Unpaired electrons are usually the result of the oxidation process in our body, and without a pair, these atoms seek more other atoms to pair to within the frame, causing oxidative stress. If these radicals accumulate at a faster rate than it takes to provide them with electrons to pair up with, then they could cause damage to the cells and DNA. And damage to the DNA is one way to cause cancer.
Antioxidants and polyphenols then help mitigate this damage by providing electrons that the atoms could bond with, stabilizing them. So go ahead and get your dose of cancer-fighting chemicals—just don’t go overboard.