The coffee that’s supposed to be so horrible for your teeth and gums? It may not be quite that horrible at all.
Oh, sure, it can stain the heck out of ’em. And if you like to drink it loaded with sugar, milk, flavored syrup, whipped cream and all that, your teeth will be the worse for wear eventually – especially if you have a tendency to sip through the day. Coffee is also quite acidic in and of itself.
On the other hand, coffee from at least one type of bean appears to be pretty powerful in breaking down oral biofilm, a/k/a plaque. That’s the conclusion of research published just yesterday in Letters in Applied Microbiology.
Using milk teeth, donated to research by children, the team cultivated biofilms on tooth fragments using the bacteria in saliva samples. When the fragments were exposed in solution to an extract of the Vietnamese coffee beans, there were indications that the bacteria had burst open, or lysed.
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It is likely that it is the polyphenol chemicals in coffee that damage the biofilm bacteria, but further research is required to determine this.
This isn’t to say that drinking more coffee is The Answer. Rather, your best protection against gum disease and tooth decay is, as ever, optimal home and professional hygiene, a nutrient-dense diet that’s low in added sugars and refined carbs, keeping tobacco- and drug-free, exercising regularly…in short, living a positive, healthy lifestyle.
But it can include an occasional cup of coffee, too.
Image by G.Russell, via Flickr