Posted in Prevention

7 ways to reduce coffee stained smiles

Melbourne is a city obsessed with coffee. It’s virtually impossible to turn a corner in Melbourne without being met by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting down a laneway. It’s no surprise then that we also have trouble battling coffee stains. Here is a coffee lover’s guide to help keep your teeth clean and stain free:



1)    Drink your coffee with full cream milk (and no, is not because milk is white!) 

The milk proteins found in full cream milk bind to the coffee tannins, instead of the tannins binding to your teeth. But this only work with animal fats – sorry soy and almond milk drinkers.

2)    Drink your coffee with a straw

Not glamorous but this may be an option for the soy and almond milk drinkers. Drink your coffee with a straw – this decreases contact of the coffee with your teeth.

3)    Rinse with tap water straight after 

Apart from reducing staining, rinsing with tap water straight after will help combat coffee breath – the other unwanted side effect.

4)    Eat the right foods

The general rule is, if it can stain your clothes – it can stain your teeth. Avoid dark coloured foods and drinks. Tomato sauces and curries are the worst culprits – so next time you order pasta, opt for the cream sauce rather than the tomato-based sauce.

5)     Do not use whitening toothpaste 

Highly abrasive toothpastes such as whitening toothpastes increase the risk of toothbrush abrasion, and are designed to remove your enamel pellicle (a protein skin on your teeth – that also tends to collect stains) which is a defence against acids.

– Reference: Acid resistance of human enamel by brushing with and without abrasive dentifrice.J Biol Buccale. 1992 Sep;20(3):175-80.

6)    Use an electric toothbrush.

Studies have shown that using an electric toothbrush will reduce stain formation on teeth. Plaque has a tendency to harbour stains and keeping your teeth clean will slow stain formation. I wouldn’t brush immediately after drinking coffee because your teeth may still be “soft” from the acidity in the coffee, as long as you thoroughly clean your teeth twice a day this will take care of the plaque. For more tips on choose the right electric toothbrush click here.

7)     Don’t add sugar to your coffee

Please please PLEASE don’t add sugar or honey to your coffee (or tea for that matter). I wish I could tell you that adding sugar will stain your teeth as this would probably be a more convincing argument than me saying that sugar leads to holes in your teeth….  I know it has nothing to do with stains but I couldn’t help myself. Sugar, no matter how little you put in your hot drink, will still causes cavities in your teeth.

Aside from reducing the staining impact from the coffee itself, you can (and will still have to) treat the effects of the coffee.

  • Visit the dentist for a professional clean. A clean by the dentist will give you back a stain free smile. Most people will benefit from a clean every 6 months but if you seem to collect staining more quickly, you may need to look after yourself with a 4 monthly clean.
  • Whiten your teeth. Sometimes, after stains are removed natural teeth colour is not as bright and white as we might like. If you want to achieve a whiter and brighter smile teeth whitening might be the answer. Check with your dental professional if you’re a suitable candidate for teeth whitening. Whitening is best done through your dentist since they can provide you with whitening agents (either trays or in office treatments) that provide the best colour stability (your teeth will be whiter longer), and also can administer additional treatment to whiten teeth safely.


So to all the coffee lovers, keep smiling! You don’t have to give up your coffee, just take up a few health habits and don’t let staining bring down your smile.


To find the best coffee that Melbourne has to offer, check out:

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An online healthy lifestyle blog from a dental point of view - Advice on how to live a healthy lifeSMILE :)

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