How does Coffee Stain your Teeth?

For most of us, coffee is a crucial puzzle piece needed to start the day, but that doesn’t mean that it has no downsides. Perhaps the most common issue faced by coffee connoisseurs is the gradual discolouration of the teeth that can occur in even the most infrequent of drinkers. But what’s going on? What exactly is it in your morning cup of joe that damages your smile? Why does it stain your teeth?

Coffee contains molecules called tannins, these molecules cause coffee to stain your teeth. Tannins are found in various food sources and are the responsible factor in teeth discolouration. Tannin molecules found in coffee cause certain colour compounds to stick to your teeth causing discolouration. So yes, Coffee can stain your teeth.

How does coffee stain your teeth?

Coffee contains Tannins (or tannoids), it is these molecules that sometimes produce a dry, dehydrated sensation in the mouth after consuming coffee, tea and red wine. Unfortunately, these molecules also cause certain colour compounds to stick more readily to your teeth. This process builds up over time and as such, after only a few years (or months, depending on your coffee intake) your teeth may take on a slightly faded yellow appearance.

What are Tannins?


“Tannins are a class of astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules that bind to and precipitate proteins and various other organic compounds including amino acids and alkaloids. The term tannin refers to the use of oak and other bark in tanning animal hides into leather.”  Wikipedia

It is important to note that these chemicals do not weaken the teeth themselves. Coffee can cause enamel decay over time. Coffee tannins are not a contributing factor and their staining effect alone is not indicative of tooth decay or deterioration.

Sadly, the components within a great cup of coffee make it a natural staining agent. Although it is by no means the only thing that can put a damper on your pearly whites. Other foods and drinks that can produce a similar effect are:

  • Tea
  • Red wine
  • Soft drinks
  • Tomatoes
  • Curries
  • Soy sauce
  • Beetroots

How do I prevent staining my teeth?

The most effective means of preventing a yellow grin would be avoidance from all foods and drinks that contain either tannoids or similar staining chemicals known as chromogens that are often found in many deeply pigmented foodstuffs. Of course, this is not a viable solution for many of us who cannot imagine ditching half our diets for a whiter smile.

How do I prevent staining my teeth?

Many home remedies exist that can help coffee-lovers deal with the drink’s negative effects, although the resulting success from these methods may vary wildly depending on the individual.

”A bad day with coffee is better than a good day without it”

– Anonymous

Some of the most common home remedies include…

  • Baking Soda – Try brushing your teeth with a combination of baking soda and water. You can combine the teeth-whitening alkaline qualities of the baking soda with the scouring effect of your toothbrush. It is believed that this can result in a gradual whitening effect over time if the practice is maintained.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide – This antiseptic liquid is commonly found in mouthwash and is said to break down the chemical agents which stain your teeth
  • Fruits and Vegetables – The high acidity and the plethora of natural minerals found in various products are thought to be able to eat away at the staining agents causing the discolouration. (just remember that tomatoes are rich in these staining chemicals).

How do I get rid of coffee stains?

For some, this information comes too late and prevention is no longer an option, this begs the question, how can you clean coffee stained teeth?

Luckily most reputable kinds of toothpaste and teeth whitening products have been shown to produce a favourable effect which can mostly counteract the teeth-staining qualities of these chemicals. However, some particularly heavy coffee drinkers may find their teeth too badly stained to be so easily remedied. In such cases, the most ideal option would be consulting with your local dentist for a professional teeth cleaning and whitening. This quick and painless process involves your dentist applying a specialised Hydrogen Peroxide gel. This gel is applied to the teeth and gums which is able to effectively break down the staining agents.

In conclusion – How does coffee stain your teeth?

Certain chemicals found in coffee and other foodstuffs can stick to your teeth and cause a stained yellowish appearance. However, while coffee can damage your teeth over time, these chemicals and the stains they produce are not the cause and do not weaken your teeth or gums.

Coffee contains Tannins (or tannoids), it is these molecules that sometimes produce a dry, dehydrated sensation in the mouth after consuming coffee, tea and red wine. Unfortunately, these molecules also cause certain colour compounds to stick more readily to your teeth. This process builds up over time and as such, after only a few years (or months, depending on your coffee intake) your teeth may take on a slightly faded yellow appearance.

Aside from avoiding these chemicals, stained teeth can be avoided or whitened by various home remedies ranging from baking soda to dietary changes.

Lastly, coffee stains are by no means permanent and teeth can be cleaned by many kinds of toothpaste, mouthwashes or, if necessary, a deep cleaning by your local dentist.

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2 Responses

  1. Penelope says:

    Such an informative post! Now that I know how to combat possible stains, I can drink my coffee with a guilt free conscience!

  1. Dec 16, 2020

    […] better, less bitter taste – You may recall a previous article briefly mentioning tannoids. Along with other molecules found in coffee, these little characters are often responsible for the […]

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