Can Drinking Coffee Clean the Teeth?
While conventional wisdom may hold that coffee is bad for your teeth, a recent study at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro seems to suggest otherwise. Researchers involved in the study found that coffee containing high levels of caffeine destroy the type of bacteria that cause the formation of dental plaque.
The researchers took baby teeth that were donated by local children and grew plaque biofilm onto each tooth. When these teeth were exposed to a coffee with a particularly high level of caffeine, Robusta, the bacteria were destroyed. In fact, the bacteria either burst or disintegrated. It was found that the polyphenols contained in the coffee were responsible for the destruction of this type of bacteria. Interestingly enough, previous studies have also linked polyphenols with the ability to prevent certain oral diseases. It is important to mention, though, that this plaque-fighting element only holds true when coffee is enjoyed black, as adding milk, cream, or sugar proved to be counterproductive.
While encouraging, it should be noted that coffee was not found to be a cure-all for keeping teeth clean, simply that it had this effect on plaque-forming bacteria. Overconsumption of coffee was still found to lead to staining and loss of enamel. As with most things in life, it seems that moderation is key for reaping the benefits of coffee.
Though there can be some benefit to moderately enjoying coffee, there is still no substitute for practicing good oral hygiene. That means regularly brushing and flossing your teeth, along with a visit to the dentist every six months for a professional exam and tooth cleaning.
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