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The Caffeine/Dental Health Connection: 1800Dentist.com

Annually, Americans consume 45 million pounds of caffeine. The legal psychoactive stimulant drug has been ingested since the Stone Age as a way to perk up the sluggish. While early man simply chewed on seeds, bark or leaves to get the energizing jolt, the compound is now commonly dispersed in food products like coffee, tea and soda. When consumed in moderation, caffeine can temporarily reduce the feeling of exhaustion, but too much of the elixir can cause headaches, nausea, anxiety and an assortment of dental problems.

Within the states, approximately 90 percent of all citizens ingest caffeine with regularity. Coffee is the most favored form of the stimulant and it is estimated that the beverage comprises 71 percent of the caffeine market. The rest of the consumption is made up of 16 percent soda and soft drinks with tea holding up the rear at 12 percent. The fact is, some sources of caffeine are considered healthier options than others especially in regards to oral health.

Dental Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeinated drinks are not created equally and each one will have a different impact on a persons' teeth:

  • Coffee: Drinking a steaming cup of Joe is a common ritual many Americans follow daily as a way to jump start the day and the great news is, the beverage has been scientifically proven to reduce the odds of developing cavities. That level of protection comes from one of coffee's main ingredients called Trigonelline. Trigonelline is an alkaloid that can negate the effects of acid that is produced as a byproduct of bacteria during their consumption of simple sugars. Consuming black coffee can neutralize the acids and reduce harmful levels of dental plaque.
  • Black Tea: Throughout the world, the most popular caffeinated beverage is black tea and the drink is known for having naturally high levels of fluoride. New research out of Spain has indicated that a cup of black tea provides 9 milligrams of fluoride per serving.
  • Green Tea: Green tea is rich with antioxidants, polyphenols and catechins. The beverage has been proven to fight cancer, prevent heart disease and can improve oral health by fighting gum disease. Japanese research has indicated that every one cup of unsweetened green tea consumed can naturally boost the body's response to periodontal bacteria inflammation.

The key to reaping the health benefits of any type of caffeine is to keep it simple. All the studies and the dental care benefits were based on drinking caffeinated beverages without any additives such as sugar, artificial sweetener or milk. Adding those ingredients may not only negate any health perks, but will contribute to dental problems.

Caffeine Related Dental Problems

In regards to caffeinated beverages, soda is thought to provide the highest risk to dental health. Many sodas have an unhealthy combination of high levels of caffeine and sugar earning them the title of being a smile killer. While the ingredients may taste great, there are absolutely no health benefits associated with soda. Plus the way the beverage is consumed can also negatively impact oral health and increase the odds of developing tooth decay.

More often than not, soda drinkers tend to sip on the beverage all day long. Trace elements of the beverage will remain on teeth and while humans cannot see the remnants, the sugars left behind will provide a feast for oral bacteria. As the bacterium do their job of digesting sugars, they will produce tooth-eroding acid as a by-product. That will increase the odds of a person developing dental caries.

While there are dental benefits associated with both coffee and tea, the premiere caffeinated beverages are notorious for their tooth staining skills. Along with soda, tea and coffee can deposit a yellowish-brown or dark brown tint on otherwise healthy, white tooth. The surface tooth stain is caused by the "...interaction between a substance with your tooth's calculus or plaque than the color of the food or beverage," (1-800-DENTIST).

Regardless of how it is consumed, caffeine is also associated with unnecessary dental wear and tear courtesy of tooth grinding. Caffeine is a stimulant that impacts the bodies' central nervous system. As a stimulant the drug can certainly make a persons energy spike and in turn, that can trigger off a subconscious response of clenching and grinding teeth.

Tips For Healthy Caffeine Consumption

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents caffeine as being a "multiple purpose, generally recognized as safe food substance," however moderate use of the substance is advised. Although it is legal and common, caffeine is a powerful drug that can cause anxiety, addiction, nutritional deficiencies and dental woes. When it comes to caffeine, there can be too much of a good thing.

Chances are that most people will not give up their daily fix for anything and for those who prefer to throw caution to the wind, maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential to minimizing caffeine's negative impact on oral health. Brushing and flossing daily are the first steps to combating the issues. If those practices cannot be practiced after consuming caffeine, drinking clean fresh water can wash away sugars left behind. Those behaviors should be backed with regular dental exams and check ups as the work of a professional dentist can prevent any caffeine related dental woe from developing into a much larger issue. Individuals looking for a great dentist can count on 1-800-DENTIST to connect them to the skilled practitioner.