The colloquial phrase “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” was often relatable to coffee lovers who would want to enjoy the beverage and yet not want to deal with the ensuing stained teeth.
However, with the advent of dentistry making way for various teeth whitening products, you no longer have to choose between your favorite morning brew and dazzling white smile.
Although, limiting your consumption of coffee will help to maintain the whitening after the use of the tooth whiteners.
There is a range of products that have been developed to treat the extrinsic as well as intrinsic stains of teeth.
Coffee stains caused by the tannins can be treated either within the confines of a dental clinic by a dental professional or through home-care kits available in the market.
Both these essentially make use of bleaching components such as hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, and sodium perborate. Their strengths depend on the formulations that are used.
How does coffee stain your teeth?
Coffee produces extrinsic stains on the tooth surface.
Enamel covering the tooth surface is the hardest substance in the body. However, its structure comprises of pits and grooves that attract the food particles.
Tannins present in beverages such as coffee and tea get entrapped in the enamel causing it to stain.
If left untreated, it could result in permanent yellowish-brown coffee stains.
The most efficacious method of getting rid of the stains is through bleaching.
Bleaching can be done either in-office (dental clinic) or using home-care kits available in the market.
The goal of bleaching is to restore the normal tooth color by decolorizing the stain.
1. Commonly employed bleaching agents
Bleaching agents used in-office or dental clinic usually are of a stronger concentration than those in-home care kits and hence bring about faster and more effective results.
It is a whitening agent in concentration between 5 and 35%.
It is available in powder form.
It is also known as urea hydrogen peroxide. Its concentration ranges between 3 and 45%.
2. Custom tray at home bleaching
A commonly used method of whitening involves the use of a custom-made tray containing the bleaching agent.
It is easy to perform and is more economical for the patient.
Consult your dentist to fabricate the bleaching tray as per your dental measurements.
- Check the fit of the tray during trial sittings with your dentist.
- Brush your teeth thoroughly before placing the bleaching tray in your mouth.
- Place the bleaching agent in the tray as per the dentist’s guidelines. Avoid underfilling or overfilling the tray for better results.
- The tray should be worn for a time period of 4 hours every session.
- While removing the tray, peel it from the back to the front to prevent any soft tissue injury. Rinse off any remaining bleaching agent from your teeth.
You can expect to see results anywhere between 2-10 days or 6-8 months depending on the extent of the stains. Maintain periodic visits to the dentist for an assessment of the bleaching process.
A higher degree of whitening is seen if the bleaching agent is kept for a longer time. But prolonged duration may cause enamel weakening and tooth sensitivity.
3. Bleaching strips
This is another easy and effective method of teeth whitening.
It is becoming widely popular owing to its ease of use and relatively low cost.
These strips are also available as ‘whitening strips’ and are packaged with instructions on method and duration of usage.
Most strips require to be peeled, and the gel side of it adheres to the tooth surface.
Duration of treatment could range from anywhere between 5 minutes to an hour.
These can be used in a manner similar to your regular toothpaste. The hydrogen peroxide in its composition is effective in getting rid of the coffee stains.
Precautions to be taken
- Debunking a popular myth and the addition of creamers in the coffee does not have any bearing on the staining. However, it increases the sugar content which can increase the amount of plaque on your teeth. Plaque makes your teeth more susceptible to staining.
- Use of whitening agents may be an effective method to get rid of most stains, but care must be taken while using them. For instance, excess hydrogen peroxide in the whitening agents may have an ischemic effect on oral tissues and may cause burns.
- Tooth bleaching often leads to tooth sensitivity and therefore, utmost care must be taken to prevent contact with gums and surrounding oral structures.
- Make sure you consult your dentist before using any home care whitening kits.
Post-operative instructions and maintenance
Bleaching generally has a lifespan of 1-3 years.
For maintenance of the whitened teeth, it is advised to discontinue consumption of teeth staining beverages such as tea and coffee. However, this is often unacceptable to most.
Rather than total abstinence, one can limit themselves to occasional sipping of coffee or using a straw while drinking coffee.
This can be followed by thorough rinsing or brushing to scour off any staining pigment particles.
Use of mouthwashes and flossing are also effective adjunctive measures to maintain a stain-free dentition.
Take away message for removal of coffee stains
Yes, coffee does stain teeth. These stains can be effectively removed through either in-office treatment options or home care kits.
You have to follow instructions on the package of the whitening products that you are using for optimal results.
Also, for getting long-lasting results, practice regular and thorough toothbrushing with whitening toothpaste along with any other supplemental whitening techniques.
Limit consumption of foods that cause staining such as tea, coffee, wines, carbonated beverages, etc.
Whitening of coffee stained teeth is attainable, but the discoloration is likely to return. You should always confer with your dentist for help in choosing the preferred whitening products for your teeth.