If your morning isn’t complete without one — or two, or three — cups of coffee, you’re in good company. As many as 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of Joe daily, according to Reuturs. Not only does it taste delicious, but the caffeine kick gets your brain and body moving, and you feel happier. There’s just one problem: Many of us reach for our toothbrush right after we take the last sip, and it’s hurting our teeth.
Here’s why: Coffee has an acidic composition that softens your teeth’s enamel, the layer that protects them from staining and other damage. “Brushing your teeth immediately [after drinking coffee] will remove some of this weakened enamel, which makes your teeth even more vulnerable,” explains California dentist Zareh Kouyoumdjian in his blog.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Just wait 30 minutes before brushing, recommends Healthline. This will give your enamel a chance to re-harden from the coffee’s effects. During that time, you should swish your mouth with water, suggests Kouyoumdjian. This trick also boosts your flow of saliva, which restores minerals to your teeth.
More tricks for maintaining your pearly whites
If you already have some staining from coffee and other foods, just head to your supermarket’s produce aisle and grab a pint of organic strawberries. It may seem counterintuitive due to their bright red color, but the berries are a proven tooth whitener, according to the Padjadjaran Journal of Dentistry. “The key thing is that strawberries contain malic acid, which whitens the teeth,” Richard Marques, a celebrity dentist, tells The Guardian.
An apple a day may also keep the dentist away. That’s because they, too, contain malic acid, as well as have a high water content, which helps wash away any stain-causing residue from your teeth, says Marques. And according to GQ, apples also stimulate saliva production, which helps prevent discoloration.
Finally, be sure to brush with a toothpaste that contains baking soda. They are significantly more effective at preventing stains and whitening teeth, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry.
With this science and expert-backed advice, your smile will be ready to shine, even if you continue to enjoy your morning coffee.
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