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What Does Drinking Coffee and Visiting the Dentist Have in Common?

dentistGood news everyone… here is another great excuse to enjoy your daily coffee break! What do going to the dentist and drinking coffee have in common? According to researchers at the University of Boston, teeth cleanings are not the only thing that can help to prevent gum disease.  Drinking a cup of coffee a day can also reduce your risk of the disease by preventing your gums from swelling, typically the first symptom.  This is interesting news because most people didn’t expect coffee to reduce the risk of gum disease or bone loss. Apparently, the caffeine in coffee works as an anti-inflammatory agent. In order to come to this conclusion, researchers reviewed data that was collected by Boston’s Department of Veteran Affairs over the course of thirty years.  During this time frame, they observed a group of over one thousand men and collected their dental exam records along with food intake surveys in order to gain data on long-term oral health.  Three decades is a long time to observe someone’s teeth, and this gave the researchers at the University of Boston a lot of information to work with. They split the men into a group that drank coffee daily and those that did not. Researchers then reviewed their dental exams to find out if there was anything different about the two groups.  Those that drank coffee every day had a decreased occurrence of bone loss.  This is important because when teeth become mobile, due to bone loss, they are more likely to become damaged or fall out.  With seventy percent of the U.S. population suffering from tooth loss, drinking coffee may be one way to enjoyably reduce that percentage. The link between coffee drinking and bone loss is related to the gums.  Bone loss is the outcome of prolonged gum disease. Since swollen gums trigger an auto-immune response, coffee may be able to inhibit the disease from the very beginning. Further research could be done to verify that it is the caffeine that helps prevent the inflammatory immune response.  In order to do this, participants could be given caffeinated tea to drink daily.  It might be interesting to see a study conducted using women in order to determine if the effects are the same. If you want to drink coffee as a way to reduce your risk of gum disease, we do want to offer some advice.  Coffee will stain your teeth so plan on some professional teeth whitening, which leads me to another relatively new discovery: teeth whitening has been shown to significantly reduce the bacteria that cause gum disease! Typically the active ingredient is some form of peroxide which helps oxidize the anaerobic bacteria that causes periodontal disease. Click through my older posts that discuss the teeth whitening process. Have you ever wondered if visiting the dentist every year really prevents tooth loss? In fact, studies show having your teeth cleaned at least twice a year you can prevent cavities and gum disease. Preventative care is incredibly important, and we advise everyone to schedule regular teeth cleanings. If its been a while and an infection does develop, it can be treated right away so that you don’t experience oral pain or guilt about not coming in. Let us help you get back into shape so you can go about life without disruption. So, it appears that drinking coffee and going the dentist have at least one thing in common: they both help prevent gum disease.  

headshot of dr eric vanek d.d.s

Dr. Eric Vanek, d.d.s

Eric has been a practicing dental surgeon for over 20 years and is the owner of Vanek Dentistry, a family dental practice in Costa Mesa, CA.

Published September 26, 2014. Updated August 17, 2021