Caffeine and Nicotine Staining

July 23, 2021
By Stephanie Osmanski
In Eco-Wellness

Caffeine and Nicotine Staining – How to Avoid It Naturally

Caffeine and Nicotine Staining

Approximately 150 million Americans drink coffee and 65 percent of all coffee is drunk at sun-up. Whether it is coffee and a sugar-laden pastry, or coffee and a cigarette, these momentary feel-good highs are hard to break, but they wreak havoc on your teeth. If you regularly drink coffee or smoke cigarettes, you may be susceptible to staining from caffeine and nicotine.
You can floss, gargle with mouthwash, and brush all you want but this will be no match for the stain buildup from certain foods and habits. Frustrating, right? Before you decide to spend $600 to $1,000 on professional in-office teeth whitening (or to buy cheaper drugstore options that could cause sensitivity), you might want to consider a few natural ways to avoid the teeth staining that often comes with indulging in both caffeine and nicotine.

What do you need to know about naturally preventing caffeine and nicotine staining? Keep reading!

Why Do our Teeth Stain?

To understand how things like caffeine and nicotine affect our teeth, we first need to understand the makeup of our teeth.

Teeth have four main dental tissues. Three are hard. The fourth, called the pulp, is the soft, inner tissue of the tooth. The hard tissue at the surface of the tooth is called the enamel. Its purpose is to protect the other layers. But the enamel itself is vulnerable to staining and discoloration.

Enamel is covered with tiny pin-holes; particles get stuck in those gaps and if not removed by regular teeth-brushing and flossing, these particles could cause a stain called an intrinsic stain. An intrinsic stain refers to stains inside the tooth rather than simply on its surface. Once an intrinsic stain has penetrated the enamel layer of the tooth, the other dental tissues become compromised and the stain can go deeper into each of the three other tissues, making it harder to remove.

What Is Caffeine and Nicotine Staining?

Fifty percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink at least one cup of coffee a day. It is no surprise caffeine is a huge contributor to teeth staining. According to Healthline, this is because coffee contains tannins, a polyphenol that causes its color compounds to stick to teeth. It doesn’t take a lot to do some damage either; as little as one cup of coffee a day can start to discolor or yellow your teeth.

Nicotine is also a main culprit. Tobacco contains both nicotine and tar, which can cause brown or yellow discolorations. According to Smile Brilliant, nicotine is colorless, but when combined with oxygen – while you’re smoking – it takes on a yellow-ish color, staining your teeth. In fact, certain teeth can become more discolored than others; cigarette smoke can affect more noticeably those teeth which are straight in the line-of-fire when you inhale.

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, found that caffeine stains are more difficult to remove from the teeth than even nicotine stains. While both caffeine and nicotine stains respond significantly to bleaching, the study found that nicotine stains caused by smoking cigarettes were more easily lifted by teeth-brushing than caffeine stains. In general, teeth stains caused by caffeine need more help to be lifted – through professional or at-home whitening or bleaching.

What Other Foods and Drinks Can Stain Teeth?

Generally, any food or beverage that is dark in color can stain your teeth, and wine and tea are rich in the same tannins as caffeine (especially red wine). Also look out for balsamic, curry, and dark berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, and pomegranates, The Healthy reports.

But it is not just food or drink, either. Antibiotics such as doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline can cause bacterial infections that result in teeth staining. Even mouthwash can cause teeth stains – if you’re using the wrong one. Excessive fluoride has also been associated with intrinsic stain especially in kids. Some mouthwashes contain chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride that can result in brown discoloration on the teeth, Harvard Health reports. When buying mouthwash, try to avoid these teeth-staining ingredients.

How to Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine Staining Naturally.

The good news is that with proper care, you can remove most caffeine and nicotine-induced stains. And you are not limited to professional or at-home whitening systems. Try the following tips for removing stains naturally.

Brush and floss before indulging

In order to remove stains, you may focus on brushing and flossing after the fact. But actually, brushing and flossing before indulging in either nicotine or caffeine is probably the most efficient preventative measure you can take.

Drink sparkling water, rinse with milk, or eat cheese

Drinking sparkling water directly after having nicotine or caffeine can help neutralize the acids that cause teeth stains. This natural trick works for other teeth stains, too, like red wine, for example. After drinking a cup of coffee, wine, or smoking a cigarette, “chase” it with a glass of sparkling water. This can help remove any plaque buildup that may be happening directly after a drink or smoke. A quick rinse with milk can also help prevent discoloration from settling in. Drinking water or milk after drinking caffeine or smoking a cigarette kind of “washes” away any plaque that may be building up. And in a pinch, plain water will do! Or you could even eat cheese, according to St. Pete Dentist.

Eat green

Dark green veggies can give your teeth a protective film, so eating them before indulging in items that can stain your teeth can minimize discoloration. Try eating broccoli, kale, other dark leafy greens, or a salad. If you are eating something that has the potential to stain your teeth – like balsamic or curry – add dark green veggies and other vegetables into the mix. They will counteract the staining food, lessening the overall discoloration.

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