The caffeine culprits of tooth staining – Payman Langroudi

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  Posted by: Dental Design      7th February 2018

People with particularly dull teeth often seek to brighten their smile through non-invasive cosmetic procedures such as tooth whitening – the most effective systems give patients the freedom to eat and drink whatever they wish, without affecting the overall colour of their teeth before, during, and after treatment. However, although many people in the UK are particularly image conscious, they do not always stop to think how their favourite hot coffee beverages could affect their teeth.

The enamel of teeth behaves similarly to the way in which a piece of pottery ages, and often has fine cracks in its surface that become stained over time. Unknown to many are the factors that can cause extrinsic discolouration:

  • Chromogens are intensely pigmented molecules that quickly latch on to dental enamel
  • Tannins are plant-based compounds that make it easier for teeth to stain
  • Acids are a substance that erode and soften enamel

These three basic elements are the culprits to discoloured teeth, and they are found in much of what many people eat and drink on a regular basis. What some people may not realise is that these substances can still stain the teeth even after some whitening treatment – that’s why it’s essential to use only the very best whitening products.

Unfortunately for caffeine lovers everywhere, coffee and tea contain tannins and acidic properties that damage teeth, and can result in staining. If you have ever brewed a cup of extra strong black tea longer than recommended, you will have immediately noticed a bitter taste in the middle of your tongue from your first sip, and a dryness in the front of your mouth, indicative of tannins. Black tea, in particular, is incredibly tannin-rich, which makes it a more potent tooth staining substance than coffee. A good rule of thumb to follow is that food that would stain clothes will do the same thing to teeth. Nevertheless, people need not worry that they should give up their favourite coffee and teas, as long as they maintain a good oral health regime that includes brushing teeth regularly, and attending routine dental appointments.

Additionally, there are tooth whitening treatments that can eliminate stains entirely. These options include home-based products such as toothpastes, gels, and films, as well as in-practice based systems where products containing highly concentrated bleaching agents are applied under professional supervision.[i] The Enlighten Whitening system, for example, employs a combination of both in-practice whitening and at-home procedures to guarantee a Vita shade B1 for every patient. What’s more, this impressive result is achievable without any change in a patient’s diet during or after treatment.

We are now a nation of coffee addicts, but it is important that Britons enjoy their early morning drinks with moderation in mind. It is essential to do so in order to maintain a whiter smile for many years to come.

For more information, visit, email at or call the team on 0207 424 3270




[i] Carey, C. (2014) Tooth Whitening: What We Now Know. Link: [Last accessed: 13.12.2017].

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