Ranking at number 5 in America’s most caffeinated cities, we here in Spokane definitely love our java, and now recent research shows that it’s good for us, too. Well, we’ve known for a long time about coffee’s many benefits, but now we can add anti-plaque properties to its long list of health benefits. An extract from a certain type of coffee bean (Coffea canephora) can break down bacterial plaque to reduce the risk of both gum disease and tooth decay between trips to the dentist.
Of course, we’re not sure how much of an impact this may have on the oral health of coffee drinkers.
A Certain Special Bean Breaks Down Plaque
This Research comes from Rio de Janeiro, where researchers studied effect of coffee bean extract on plaque growing on teeth. Using baby teeth that had been contaminated with bacteria from saliva samples, they treated the teeth in four different ways.
One was treated with coffee extract. Another was treated with distilled water. The third group was treated with an antibiotic. The fourth wasn’t treated at all.
They then tested the hardness of the enamel on teeth and the calcium levels in the water around the teeth at four and seven days. They found that bacteria levels decreased (shown by increased calcium levels due to burst bacteria) on the tooth in the coffee extract. It wasn’t as much as was seen in the antibacterial agent, but it was significantly more than in the distilled water tooth.
As a potential treatment, this is exciting because people tend to drink coffee at stronger concentrations than most medicinal infusions, giving it potential as an everyday prevention technique. And the extract could be used as the basis of natural mouthwashes, toothpastes, and other treatments.
Another Cup of Joe?
Coffee may not be as potent as antibacterial solution, but it has a lot more caffeine. The question is: will it give you a net benefit in cavity and gum disease prevention? That’s hard to say.
If you tend to drink your coffee with milk and sugar, you may not be benefiting from the antibacterial effect as much as you’re suffering from giving bacteria lots of food at many times throughout the day.
Coffee also has a couple of drawbacks in that it contributes to staining, which means you’ll need teeth whitening more often. It also can be acidic, which contributes to erosion of teeth.
Still, it’s good to know that our daily habit may not be all bad for our teeth. Not that we were going to give it up, anyway. Forced to choose between teeth or coffee . . . that would be a hard choice to make. It’s a good thing we don’t have to.