Caffiene and the Mouth

Many of us are aware that coffee and tea causes teeth staining and are concerned about the aesthetics, however most are not aware that caffeine, found in coffee, tea, soft drink and energy drinks, can have an adverse effect on your oral health.

Caffeine is a stimulant that occurs naturally in foods such as coffee, chocolate and tea, and is also an additive in some foods and drinks such as softdrinks, energy drinks and some medications. Caffeine is a natural diuretic, which means more frequent urination, causing dehydration. Dehydration is a serious problem for maintaining good oral health as it causes a low or poor quality salivary flow. Saliva is a natural protection for the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth as it lubricates the mouth aiding in chewing and digestion and washing away adhered food particles, it buffers dietary acids and contains antibacterial agents. A decrease in saliva flow causes an increased risk of dental decay.

Caffeine is also acidic and bears a bitter taste. This is a concern for oral health as tooth enamel can be eroded away from dietary acids, such as caffeine in coffee, softdrinks or energy drinks. This can lead to long term problems of dental decay and sensitivity.

Caffeine containing drinks sometimes contain sugars as sweeteners and this significantly increases the risk of dental decay. When sugary drinks are sipped over a period of time the bacteria in your mouth react by producing acid. This acid will attack the enamel on your teeth and cause dental decay. By consuming sugary drinks at mealtimes rather than sipping during the day, you can reduce the amount of time your teeth are under attack.

Therefore, when consuming beverages containing caffeine it is important to drink plenty of water to replace water lost through diuretic effect, minimise caffeine drinks containing sugar and drink these beverages with meals rather than sipping throughout the day.