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Could Your Coffee Be Helping Your Teeth?

If you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who indulges in an occasional cup of coffee each day, no doubt you have heard about all the reasons you shouldn’t be drinking it. After all, coffee causes coffee breath,  stained teeth, dry mouth, and enamel erosion. But now, evidence suggests that drinking coffee may not be all bad. Researchers at Rio De Janeiro’s Federal University recently discovered that certain kinds of coffee can actually stop tooth decay.

It’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, transcending languages, cultures, and continents. But though despite its universal popularity, coffee has universal drawbacks, too. But before you toss that cup of dark roast like a bad habit, relax! Coffee isn’t all bad! In addition to some pretty impressive health benefits for the rest of your body, including lower risks for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, among other things, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has revealed that if drank black and without sugar, coffee from the coffee canephora bean, present in about 30% of the world’s coffee blends, may actually help prevent tooth decay.

This is because these beans contain an antioxidant called methylpyridinium, which is created during the coffee bean’s roasting process. This antioxidant helps kill a naturally occurring oral bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which is the primary bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay. But don’t just start tossing back lattes and expecting a perfect smile.

“Unfortunately, to take advantage of the benefits of methylpyridinium, you need to drink your coffee black, and without sweeteners,” said Dr. Stephen Hill an Allen, Texas dentist.”Loading it up with half and half and sugar will have the opposite effect.”

So, what can you do if you simply don’t like the taste of plain black coffee? Hill says your regular cup of coffee should be fine in moderation as long as you are taking care of your teeth in the meantime. According to Hill, that means brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and if possible, drinking water between each serving of coffee you consume to rinse away the acid and any sugar or creamer you may have added to your drink.

“Don’t look for coffee to replace your dental hygiene,” Hill said. “If you already enjoy unsweetened black coffee, then absolutely drink it, but you still need to rinse your mouth out afterward, and you still should wait at least 30 minutes after drinking to brush your teeth, so you can allow your tooth enamel to re-harden. Don’t force yourself to drink something you don’t like just because you think it’s a fix-all. If you take good care of your teeth, you should be able to drink whatever you want, regardless of if it has antioxidants.”

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