We love our caffeine, whether it comes in the form of a hot cup of coffee in the morning or an afternoon jolt of ice-cold cola. But too much of it can make you jittery, raise your heart rate and make it hard to fall asleep at night. The drinks in which it comes also can affect your teeth.
Caffeine is a chemical naturally found in cocoa nuts, coffee beans and tea leaves. Most people ingest caffeine from coffee, tea, colas and chocolate, but it is also found in energy drinks and pain relievers.
Caffeine acts as a temporary stimulant that offers a physical or mental energy boost. Too much, however, can cause bone loss, irregular heart beat and sleep deprivation, among other problems.
Caffeine and Teeth
Although caffeine drinkers, particularly coffee drinkers, may find over time that their teeth develop brown stains, the problem is not the caffeine. Rather, it is the dark liquid itself that changes tooth color. Even non-caffeinated colas can cause staining.
Drinks That Will Damage Your Teeth
While caffeine does not affect teeth and coffee can only stain them, colas are not so harmless. The phosphoric acids in colas act as a corrosive agent and wear away the tooth enamel, making it more susceptible to bacteria and eventually to cavities. High fructose syrup in regular sodas also creates a breeding ground for bacteria.
A note of caution: Like coffee and tea, cola does not provide nutrients. Other drinks are healthier choices, such as milk, water and fruit or vegetable juice.
Other Causes of Tooth Staining
Tooth color can change with age, as tooth enamel thins and allows more of the darker under layer, or dentin, to show. Certain medicines can also affect tooth color, such as tetracycline and other antibiotics.
You can limit further staining by drinking fewer dark colored beverages. Your dentist can advise you on treatment methods for current discoloration.
For teeth that are extremely badly stained, your dentist might recommend using porcelain veneers. Veneers, which are custom made, are permanently bonded to your teeth. While dark-colored beverages can also stain veneers over time, this treatment does offer patients another opportunity for a bright smile.