Around the world, coffee is perhaps the most ubiquitous beverage—and it’s not just for the caffeine. We love coffee for its bold, complex flavors, its unique aroma, and its inexplicable ability to bond us together in conversation.
Over 1 billion people drink coffee as a part of their daily routine, and 75% of Americans rely on it for their morning fix.
But what if you just whitened your teeth? Are the hundreds (or thousands) you spent on teeth whitening kits worth putting at risk for a cup of joe?
The short answer: Coffee is safe to drink after teeth whitening—but with some caveats. We recommend waiting 24 hours before having your first cup of coffee after whitening treatments.
In this article, we will examine the reasons behind this and discuss the best ways to keep your teeth white if you need to enjoy a cup of coffee.
Can I Drink Coffee After Whitening My Teeth?
Since coffee is such an essential element of most people’s lives, it’s natural to wonder if you can still indulge in a cup of joe after whitening your teeth.
Coffee contains tannins (i.e., pigment-producing compounds) that break down in water and stick to your teeth. The same compounds are found in tea, wine, and other natural dark-colored beverages.
The good news is that consuming coffee after teeth whitening treatments is perfectly safe. However, it is important to be mindful of when and how you consume it:
- After any type of in-office whitening treatment, you should wait at least 24 hours before having your first cup of coffee. This will give the effects of the whitening solution time to set in and prevent any staining from occurring.
- If you opt for an at-home teeth whitening kit, we recommend following the instructions on the package. These usually recommend waiting between 12 and 24 hours before drinking coffee or other dark-colored drinks.
It is also important to note that the tannins in coffee quickly stain your teeth, so it’s best to drink it through a straw whenever possible and rinse your mouth out with water afterward. This will also help to reduce the amount of coffee that comes into contact with your teeth.
By taking these small steps, you can still enjoy coffee without compromising the effects of your whitening treatment.
I Accidentally Drank Coffee After Whitening My Teeth. What's Next?
Plenty of people make the mistake of drinking coffee too soon after whitening their teeth—and that’s ok. If you make this mistake once or twice, the effects are unlikely to be noticeable.
Most whitening processes take weeks to fully take effect, so drinking coffee may not affect the overall results. But you should still take the time to brush your teeth after drinking coffee, especially if you just applied the whitening solution or visited the dentist. This will help to remove any tannins that may have stuck to your teeth and prevent further staining.
If I Stop Drinking Coffee, Will My Teeth Get Whiter?
Coffee does not damage your teeth, but it is highly acidic and contains tannins. This means that over time, the residue from coffee can cause your teeth to yellow or become discolored.
However, studies show other fluids to be the main culprits behind post-bleaching discoloration. Red wine, tea, and cola drinks contain higher levels of tannins than coffee and can cause your teeth to become discolored if you drink them too often.
If you notice that your teeth are beginning to yellow or stain more easily after whitening, it could be an indication that some of the whitening effects have been reversed. If this is the case, limiting or avoiding the consumption of coffee and other dark-colored beverages can help to preserve your white smile.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your teeth stay white is to practice good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing your teeth with soft bristles twice a day, flossing regularly, and using fluoride toothpaste.
Coffee Alternatives To Keep Your Teeth White
The effects of coffee on teeth are heavily researched, but knowing its impact probably doesn't help you much.
Here's a list of coffee alternatives that won't stain your teeth or will minimize the effects of staining:
White tea is the crème de la crème of light colored beverages. The nutrients in this tea are great for your overall health, and its color won’t leave any unwanted discoloration behind on your teeth.
White teas contain high levels of antioxidants that may provide several health benefits, such as reducing inflammation and promoting heart health. Unlike black tea or green tea, white tea does not undergo any oxidation process during production—it’s simply steamed and dried before being packaged for distribution. This helps to retain more beneficial antioxidants than other types of processed teas.
White tea still contains tannins, but they are in considerably smaller amounts than in coffee and other teas. As a result, white tea is less likely to cause staining or discoloration of teeth. And since the bioavailability of fluoride in white tea is around 34%, it actually helps to prevent enamel erosion, gum disease, and many other problems associated with poor oral health.
If you're someone who likes the caffeine kick of coffee but wants to avoid its staining powers, yerba mate is one of the best alternatives. This traditional South-American brew made from dried leaves of the holly plant has been consumed for centuries in countries such as Argentina and Paraguay. And today, it’s gaining popularity in the United States and other countries.
Yerba mate is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and polyphenols. And when the leaves are boiled to make the tea, many of its cancer-fighting compounds are released.
Unlike coffee, yerba mate contains only trace amounts of tannins—which means that it won't stain your teeth or cause discoloration. It also has a mild flavor, making it a versatile tea to drink hot or cold.
Rooibos, also known as redbush tea, is a natural herbal beverage made from the leaves of the South African rooibos bush. It has a slightly sweet and earthy flavor and is naturally caffeine-free, gluten-free, and low in tannins. It is often used to make a traditional South African tea, but it’s also brewed and served as an herbal iced tea or added to coffee for a delicious flavor.
Since it's caffeine-free, Rooibos isn't the best alternative for coffee drinkers who like the energizing effects of caffeine. However, if you're looking for a healthier and tooth-friendly alternative to decaffeinated coffee and black bedtime teas, Rooibos could be the perfect choice.
Matcha is one of the most popular teas in the world. It's made from high-quality green tea leaves that have been stone-ground into a fine powder and is commonly offered in latte form at coffee shops, restaurants, and cafes.
Matcha is packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that provide several health benefits, including improved digestion, boosted energy levels, and better focus.
It also contains very low levels of tannins, which makes it a great choice for those who want to whiten their teeth without having to worry about staining them further. In fact, some research have indicated that since matcha is high in antioxidants such as EGCG, it can actually help to whiten teeth.
Golden Milk Lattes
Golden milk lattes are becoming increasingly popular among health-conscious coffee drinkers. This warming beverage is made with turmeric, an ancient medicinal spice that has anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases.
It’s usually made with a mixture of non-dairy milk, honey, ginger, and cinnamon, which can help to boost immunity and improve digestion. And since it doesn't contain any tannins or caffeine, it won't stain your teeth or cause discoloration.
Recent trends on TikTok and other social media platforms brand turmeric as a teeth-whitening agent. But Healthline verifies that this is all anecdotal evidence at the moment. Nevertheless, golden milk lattes are still a great alternative for those who want to whiten their teeth without having to worry about staining them further.
And who knows? Maybe you'll be the one to find out if turmeric really does help whiten teeth.
We sure hope you're not drinking coffee all day long! Otherwise, you probably won't have any teeth left to whiten.
Staying hydrated throughout the day is critical for your dental health because it helps to wash away bacteria and plaque that can cause cavities. And while water won't replace coffee, it's the best option if you want to stay alert and completely avoid stains on your teeth.
Want to know more? Here are a few questions our customers frequently ask us:
Can I drink coffee with milk after teeth whitening?
Most teeth whitening options won't be impacted by drinking coffee with milk after the treatment. However, coffee is known to stain teeth. To guarantee the best results from your teeth whitening treatment, it's best to avoid tannic beverages—including coffee—during your treatment.
Can Coffee Make Your Teeth Yellow?
Yes, coffee can make your teeth yellow. The tannins found in coffee are known to cause staining on the surface of teeth and—over time—discolor them. This can be avoided by immediately brushing your teeth after drinking coffee or having a cup of water afterward to help wash away any remaining particles.
Does Black Coffee Stain Teeth?
Research proves that all kinds of coffee can stain teeth, regardless of the dilution level, bean type, or roasting process. Black coffee, in particular, is a potent stain due to its high tannin content.
Is Black Coffee Bad For My Teeth?
Black coffee is not bad for your teeth, per se. But it is known to stain teeth, so it has the potential to discolor them. Plenty of people drink black coffee every day without a problem. But if you're actively trying to improve your smile, it's best to stay away from coffee or rinse your mouth with water after drinking it.
Does Coffee Cause Tooth Decay?
Coffee is acidic, meaning it can cause damage to the enamel of your teeth. If you drink sugary coffee beverages from coffee shops, the risks of tooth decay increase significantly. That said, drinking a relatively normal amount of coffee is unlikely to lead to tooth decay, especially if you floss and brush your teeth twice per day.
Does Black Coffee Cause Cavities?
The tannic acids found in black coffee can cause erosion of your tooth enamel, which increases your risk of cavities. But if you're drinking it without added sugar or other sweeteners, then the risk should be relatively low. Even if you do drink sugary coffee drinks, a standard oral hygiene routine of flossing and brushing twice per day should be enough to keep cavities away.
Does Coffee Help With Toothache?
One study showed that when used in conjunction with acetaminophen, coffee can help reduce toothache pain. However, this isn't a recommended application for pain relief. If you're experiencing a toothache or any other dental discomfort, it’s best to visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Should You Brush Your Teeth After Drinking Coffee?
Although the risks of significant tooth discoloration are low, it's still a good idea to brush your teeth after drinking coffee. This will help remove any remaining particles that can cause staining and leave your smile looking brighter than ever.
Especially if you drink coffee beverages that are high in sugar, brushing your teeth after drinking them can reduce your risk of cavities, tooth decay, and other unwanted dental issues.
How Long After Fluoride Treatment Can I Drink Coffee?
After any dental treatment, it is best to wait at least an hour before drinking coffee, tea, juice, or any other potentially staining beverages. You should also avoid eating acidic foods in this time frame.
Are There Any Foods To Avoid When Teeth Whitening?
Here is a list of foods to avoid while teeth whitening:
- Foods cooked with dark sauces or marinades (e.g., black beans, tomato-based sauces)
- Balsamic vinegar, mustard, and other acidic condiments
- Dark fruits (e.g., blueberries, grapes)
- Citrus fruits (e.g., oranges, lemons)
- Candy and chocolate
Can Coffee Ruin Enamel?
Yes, coffee can ruin enamel. The tannins and acidity of coffee can erode the protective layer of your teeth, making them more sensitive and prone to staining. To help protect your enamel, brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. And if you want to avoid all potential dental risks, drink tea instead.