It’s well known that consuming multiple cups of coffee or tea a day is a sure way to stain your teeth. What you may not know, is that drinking coffee or tea in moderation can actually help you protect your teeth. So, if you’re a fan of the numerous fantastic coffee shops we have here in Ashland, here is yet another reason to justify that $4 yummy warm beverage.
What makes coffee and tea good for you?
Scientists believe antioxidants (polyphenols and catechins, specifically) help reduce inflammation in the body, aid in reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure, and protect against heart attack and stroke. They also help reduce inflammation in your mouth. We find them in fruit, vegetables, red wine, coffee, tea, and chocolate to name a few.
If you want to reap the benefits of coffee and tea, the trick is to consume each without feeding the bad bacteria that can cause decay.- so, no cream and sugar! If you need a little sweetener, you may want to try the all-natural sweetener, xylitol. Xylitol will not feed the cavity forming bacteria, it’s low on the glycemic index, it remineralizes teeth, and makes teeth more difficult for bacterial plaques to adhere. You may also want to enjoy your coffee and tea “warm” as opposed to excessively hot. There is some speculation about how the temperature of your beverage can affect the lining of your esophagus.
• Tea: The benefit? Fluoride!
Did you know black tea contains fluoride due to the plant’s absorption from the soil? This, of course, can be both, beneficial or harmful for you. If you drink from a non-fluoridated water source, it would be beneficial to drink a bit of tea from time to time.
• Coffee: The benefit? Trigonelline!
Trigonelline is what’s known as an alkaloid. And this alkaloid appears to be of specific benefit to our teeth. It’s found in its highest levels in Arabica coffee beans, and research suggests that, much like xylitol, it interferes with cavity-causing bacteria’s ability to adhere itself to tooth enamel. Research is ongoing, but it does seem to be another feather-in-the-cap of your morning “joe.”
As with anything in life, moderation is key. Any time you want to start doing more of something you’re not doing already, from ingesting new foods to ramping up the exercise, always consult with your family physician.