Coffee stains on teeth? How to deal with drink stains.

Wine, coffee, and tea can stain your teeth. But you can fix or even avoid the staining all together. Learn more.

If you're anything like the Wally team, your day does not start until you've had your first coffee in the morning. Like many delicious things, coffee has a reputation for staining teeth and harming teeth. But that doesn't mean you have to ditch your cup of joe if you want to have healthy, beautiful teeth.

Our clinical team has dug deep into the research about how to enjoy some of our most favorite foods and drinks (like coffee) while keeping our teeth healthy for the long run. Now we're excited to pass that knowledge along to you.

Coffee and teeth - how to have your caffeine and enamel too

It's true, coffee does stain your teeth. That's because the microscopic contours on every tooth are excellent traps for food particles. Coffee (and other things) embed themselves into those spaces and stain the teeth. This is everybody's first concern but more importantly...

No surprise, coffee is acidic. And it's also dehydrating and can help dry out your mouth. The increased acidity plus a drier mouth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which then lead to more acidity and bad breath. 

Those acids sit on your teeth and weaken your enamel. Over time, your enamel wears down and becomes more brittle and translucent. Weak enamel makes your teeth look yellow because the dentin inside your tooth, which is yellow, starts to show through your enamel.

Over time those acids can cause halitosis, sensitivity, cavities, and other issues.

Remove coffee stains from teeth

Coffee has tannins, and over time those tannins build up on your enamel and stain your teeth. Tannins are naturally found in plants and since coffee comes from a plant, well, you get it. 

If you have long-term coffee stains on your teeth, the best thing to do is schedule a cleaning with your dentist and discuss professional whitening. "You might be amazed at how much stain can be removed from a professional cleaning," shares Wally hygienist, Iman Zayed. "For permanent staining from things like coffee, custom whitening trays with custom-formulated gel that you control from home is the best way to go."

Remove tea stains from teeth… just like with coffee!

Tea, like coffee, comes from a plant and comes with its own natural tannins. And just like coffee, the tannins in tea build up over time and stain your enamel. 

But no matter where those stains came from, a professional cleaning and custom whitening is likely your best bet to change the shade of your teeth.

Red wine teeth - should you worry?

Why do your teeth look demonic after a glass of merlot or bordeaux? Yeah, usually not ready for a professional headshot. That is thanks, again, to those tannins.

Let's do a quick sidebar on tannins. Tannins in wine come from grape skins, seeds, stems, and even the wood barrels used to age the wine. Other than stain your teeth, they also provide the "mouthfeel" to your wine to give it complexities that sommeliers rave about. They also give a bitter taste which is responsible for that unique taste in coffee and tea.

So when your teeth look like something after a Freddie Kruger movie after your chianti, don't panic. Here are some steps you can take to reduce the effects of tannins and keep your teeth strong and brilliant 👇👇👇👇

Coffee is bad for teeth… no more!

What happens when you have a team of dental care nerds who love coffee? They come up with a strategy to keep your teeth healthy while you drink your espresso (or macchiato):

  • Drink your coffee within 20 min rather than sipping it over a few hours. That reduces the exposure of the acidity in your mouth.
  • Believe it or not, adding a dash of cream to your coffee will help to reduce its acidity and ability to stain… but be careful about the sugar content in your creamer. Sugar free is best!
  • If you can, enjoy your coffee with a meal. Your mouth naturally becomes more acidic when you eat and drink, so pairing food and drink reduces the acidity levels.
  • Rinse your mouth out with water immediately after finishing the coffee. This removes a ton of lingering particles.
  • Wait to brush your teeth 20-30 min after the coffee. You want your mouth's acidity to reset before brushing your teeth. Otherwise the brush + acids can be abrasive on your enamel.
  • Eat raw, crunchy veggies (like carrot sticks) - they help remove particles as your teeth chomp them. Like an edible loofa for your teeth 🥰.
  • Follow a high quality oral hygiene routine at home to neutralize your saliva and reduce the bacteria in your mouth.

What does it take to have a "high quality oral hygiene routine?" It's all about upgrading your oral care approach at home. Here's what our team of clinicians recommend to decrease acids and bacteria in your mouth and to keep your enamel strong:

  • Use an electric, sonic toothbrush
  • Use soft-headed toothbrush bristles
  • Brush at least twice per day (or after each time you eat) for two minutes
  • Make sure you brush all the contours of your teeth, and also get your gum line
  • Make sure your toothpaste has a remineralizing ingredient
  • Floss or use a water pik daily

And make sure you see your dentist and hygienist as often as needed to ensure your teeth stay healthy. "You might be surprised that two cleanings per year isn't usually enough," explains Iman Zayed, RDH. "Insurance companies use the two-per-year standard for billing purposes, but if your mouth is acidic or is favorable to bacteria, it's better to come more often so you can avoid biofilm buildup and prevent long-term problems from happening."

That's why Wally studio members get unlimited cleanings. If you need to come 3 or even 4 times per year for a cleaning, your dental plan shouldn't get in the way of you getting the care you need. If you're also excited about a better way to get the dental care you need, join our waitlist.

Check out our complete guide on teeth discoloration, "White spots on teeth and other discoloration" for everything you need to keep your teeth looking evenly bright.

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