5 Ways To Remove Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

coffee cup

Your morning Joe. Liquid energy. Brain juice. Java. No matter what you call it or how you like it (iced, black, or freshly ground) you know you need it. Of course, I’m talking about coffee. And believe it or not, the United States isn’t even in the top five countries for coffee consumption![1] Yet, we Americans rely on it day after day. It’s the first thing we reach for in the morning and we rarely go a day without it.

But there’s one bad thing about it…the leftover coffee teeth stains it leaves behind.

You know what I’m talking about. Coffee teeth stains tend to either be an overall darkness on your teeth or isolated specks of black or brown stain. You’ll notice it the most on the teeth closest to where you’re sipping from your coffee cup: the front ones.

Why Does Coffee Stain Teeth?

Our teeth are naturally porous. They’re covered in thousands of tiny little holes (“tubules”) that house nerve tissues. As a result, those tiny tubules gradually tend to collect bacteria and stain particles from the foods and drinks that we consume. Darker foods = more stain. More stain = darker teeth.  And since liquids can easily flow just about anywhere, they tend to stain your teeth more than chewing something like blueberries or a dish with curry in it. Plus, we just tend to consume coffee on a consistent basis.

Coffee is something that – if you drink it – most people consume every single day and up to a few times a day. And since it’s such a dark liquid, coffee stains teeth over time.

How To Get Rid Of Coffee Stains

Depending on the extent of your tooth stain, it’s possible to prevent and/or get rid of staining (to an extent.) But first, you need to understand Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic stain. Extrinsic stains – like coffee stains – are surface stains on the outside of your tooth structure.[2]

On the other hand, intrinsic stains are those that have soaked into the tubules and overall tooth enamel, making them “inside” stains (so to speak.) Intrinsic stains can also form while your teeth are developing, as a result of anatomical changes or excess minerals in your diet. When coffee stains are still extrinsic, they’re easier to clean off. But intrinsic stains are harder to get rid of.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll talk about the most effective methods for reducing and eliminating extrinsic tooth stain, since it’s something you can do on your own.

1) Professional Care 

Scheduling regular cleanings with your dental hygienist is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of coffee stains on your teeth. The hygienist has a powered polishing tool that can quickly buff away stains in a matter of seconds. And for tedious ones, they may even use an air polisher (which is a bit more like a power washer that uses tiny particles of polishing powder) to help your teeth look whiter. Plus, there’s the fact that plaque and tartar also absorb coffee stains.

Getting that buildup cleaned off at least every six months doesn’t just help with the way your smile looks, but it also boosts your oral health and gives you fresher breath. And if it turns out that you have heavy intrinsic staining after your cleaning, your dentist can talk to you about more “heavy-duty” whitening options that are available.

2) Brushing With Baking Soda And Hydrogen Peroxide 

Disclaimer: This is NOT something you want to do on a regular basis. In fact, it should be done sparingly and only at the direction of your dentist.

Baking soda is abrasive; as such, it can buff away tooth stains. But used too much, it can also do damage to your teeth and gums. And hydrogen peroxide is a natural whitener. It’s even an important ingredient in teeth whitening systems.

When used here and there, they can help with managing chronic tooth staining. But please, don’t use them more than 1-2 times a month, tops. If you want to know why, Google “black hairy tongue”, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

3) Whitening Toothpaste 

A teeth whitening toothpaste is one that’s better for preventing new stain buildup. If you’re a regular coffee drinker, this is a staple you’ll want to keep on hand. Used regularly, whitening toothpaste helps disrupt and prevent new stain accumulation. That way your teeth stay the same level of white or even better. But be warned, it could make your teeth sensitive. Use it as directed or alternate it with a sensitivity toothpaste to minimize any unwanted irritation.

4) Whitening Strips/Trays 

Over-the-counter teeth whitening products contain a modest amount of bleaching gel to help remove coffee stains and brighten your teeth. These types of products do help with intrinsic (internal) tooth stain to a degree. If you have heavier stain levels or have been drinking coffee for years, an actual whitening gel, strip, or tray can take your smile to the next level.  BURST’s Coconut Whitening Strips,  are great and you can shape to the curves of your teeth. Take note to keep it off of your gums, as it could lead to irritation.

5) Upgrade To An Electric Toothbrush 

Powered rotary or sonic toothbrushes naturally give you more strokes per second than you would get brushing with a manual toothbrush. When you use them on a routine basis, you’ll see better plaque removal and stain prevention. Some toothbrushes – like BURST – even have built-in “whitening” modes that you can use after brushing! Simply use it on one or two teeth at a time to help your smile look whiter from enhanced stain removal.

Does Coffee Stain Teeth Less If You Add Cream?

Adding things like milk or cream to your coffee doesn’t really make that big of a difference when it comes to how badly coffee stains teeth. Some people may claim otherwise. In reality, adding flavors and creams can make your coffee less healthy. The added sweeteners increase your risk of tooth decay[3] and can contribute to unwanted calories in your diet, causing you to gain weight. Black coffee is actually healthier, even if it does leave teeth stain behind.

Preventing Coffee Stains

Since coffee teeth stains are something that accumulates over time, prevention is key. One of the most important things to do is to thoroughly rinse your mouth out with water after you drink coffee. If possible, try to brush your teeth to remove any stain particles that may have started to stick to your enamel.[4]

If you really want to go overboard, you can sip your coffee through a straw. Yeah, it’s not popular, and people might even think you’re weird, but it physically prevents the dark liquid from coming into contact with the front of your teeth.

Coffee Can Also Cause Bad Breath

Sipping on coffee can leave a lingering aftertaste or alter the way your breath smells. Every time you eat, the residue left inside of your mouth feeds the natural flora that makes up your oral biology. Some of the bacteria are good, some is bad.[5] And if your coffee has creamer or sweeteners inside of it, there are extra sugars (artificial or not) for those bacteria to feed on. The more often you drink, the more bacterial waste products are produced (plaque biofilm.) If halitosis is a concern and it seems to be worse after you drink coffee, make sure you’re cleaning your mouth out well after your cup of coffee.

Other Foods & Drinks That Stain As Well

Coffee isn’t the only tooth stain culprit out there. Other foods, drinks, and even recreational activities (like swimming in a pool) can increase the amount of stain on your teeth.[6] Here are some of the most common offenders:

As with coffee consumption, you can reduce your amount of stain buildup by rinsing with water and brushing your teeth regularly.

Overcoming Coffee Stains On Your Teeth

As much as we love caffeine, coffee teeth stains are a bad side effect. The natural pores of our tooth enamel allow stain buildup to accumulate over time, especially for people who are heavy coffee drinkers. By scheduling regular cleanings at your dentist’s office, cleaning your teeth thoroughly each day, and using DIY tooth stain prevention tactics, you can successfully keep your smile whiter, longer. For heavier tooth stain woes, speak to your dentist about a professional whitening system.