Coffee Stains Teeth Whitening Options Explained

Canadians love their coffee. In fact, Canadians consume 14.3 pounds of coffee per person each year. While coffee certainly has its benefits, it does have one significant drawback: it stains your teeth.

Coffee products on a wood plate

Like many other drinks, coffee can discolor your teeth. But here’s the good news – you can take steps to remove those stains.  

We help many of our coffee-loving patients reduce or eliminate the coffee stains on their teeth.

Why Does Coffee Discolor Your Teeth?

Tooth enamel is one of the hardest substances in your body, but it still has tiny pores. Coffee contains tannins that gradually seep into these pores and wind up staining your enamel.

Coffee is also acidic, which means that it can wear away the enamel of your teeth over time.

Lower teeth coffee stains
Lower teeth coffee stains

4 Ways to Get Rid of Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

Over time, coffee can discolor your teeth and leave them looking yellow and dull. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day is your best defense against coffee stains.

However, if your oral hygiene routine isn’t cutting it, there are other steps you can take to eliminate the coffee stains on your teeth.

1. At-Home Teeth Whitening

One simple and effective way to get rid of coffee stains on your teeth is to use a teeth-whitening kit. We can provide you with an at-home whitening kit that will help brighten and whiten your teeth.

These kits use a hydrogen peroxide solution to remove stains. There are two main types of kits available:

  • Strips: These are exactly what they sound like – strips that are applied to teeth for whitening purposes. First, the solution is applied to your teeth. Next, you’ll apply strips that help keep the solution in place. Keep the strips on for as long as directed, and then rinse. Finish up by brushing your teeth.
  • Liquid packs: These come with two packs – one for the upper teeth and one for the lower teeth. Liquid packs work with mouthguards. You apply the solution to the guards using the included syringe, and then place the guard over your teeth. The guard will have to stay in place for however long is recommended. Once the treatment is complete, all you have to do is rinse your mouth and brush as normal.

At-home teeth whitening will take some time, so it’s important to dedicate time to set aside time for the process. In addition, failing to follow the directions properly could damage your enamel.

2. Professional Cleanings

Another simple way to eliminate coffee stains is to visit our office twice a year for a professional cleaning. Depending on the situation, we may also perform a polishing to remove surface layer stains. A deep cleaning and polishing can help restore your brilliant smile and eliminate stains.

3. Professional Teeth Whitening

Along with cleanings, we can also perform in-office teeth whitening treatments. In-office whitening can help whiten your teeth several shades, making your coffee stains barely noticeable.

One popular in-office whitening treatment is the Zoom Procedure. Zoom whitening takes about 90 minutes, but before we can get started, you’ll need to ensure that you have had:

  • Regular cleanings
  • Updated X-rays to ensure there are no underlying cavities

Once you meet these requirements, we can start the procedure. Here's how it works:

  • First, we’ll make you comfortable and prep you for the procedure.
  • We'll start by applying a whitening gel that contains hydrogen peroxide.
  • Next, we’ll use a Zoom light. This special light can penetrate deep into the teeth to start breaking down the stains that are causing your discoloration.
  • The gel remains on the teeth during this process, and the light will stay on your teeth for about 15 minutes.
  • We can perform up to four sessions, which brings the length of the procedure to 45-60 minutes.
Woman getting in office teeth whitening
Zoom Whitening - In Office

Your teeth may be a little sensitive after this procedure, so we may apply a sensitivity-reducing gel with fluoride to help.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

Treating your teeth with a mix of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda may also help lighten or even eliminate coffee stains.

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizer, so it stimulates the enamel to help lift the tannin particles that cause discoloration. Baking soda enhances this reaction.

  • In a clean and empty container, add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide and just enough baking soda to make a paste.  
  • Apply this paste to your teeth and allow it to sit for up to 20 minutes.  
  • Brush with your regular toothpaste.

Results may take up to three weeks to fully develop, so be patient if you don’t see results right away.  

Preventing Coffee Stains on Your Teeth

Once you have lightened or removed the coffee stains on your teeth, you can prevent them from returning by taking a few extra steps.

Drink Through a Straw

One really simple way to prevent coffee stains on your teeth is to drink your coffee through a straw. When you drink through a straw, the coffee has no contact with your teeth.

Because the coffee doesn’t touch your teeth, it never has the opportunity to stain them.

Consider using a reusable straw, like a stainless-steel straw, to reduce your environmental impact.

Brunette with glasses drinking coffee through a straw

Add Milk to Your Coffee

If you already add milk to your coffee, then you’re already taking one step to reducing coffee stains. One study found that the casein protein in milk can help prevent tannins from staining the teeth.

Adding just a little bit of milk to your coffee can help reduce or prevent stains, so it’s worth changing up your routine if you normally drink plain, black coffee.

Drink Water in Between Cups of Coffee

The reason why coffee stains your teeth is because the tannins sit on the enamel and have a chance to seep through the pores.

Drinking water will help rinse away some of those stain-causing tannins. So, make it a point to drink a glass of water in between cups of coffee. If you want to take it a step further, you can alternate between sips of coffee and sips of water to ensure the tannins aren’t sitting on your teeth for too long.

Brush Twice Daily

Maintaining a healthy, consistent oral hygiene routine is crucial to preventing coffee stains on your teeth.

Make sure that you’re:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
  • Flossing daily

Good oral hygiene will remove those tannins each day, so they don’t continue to discolor your teeth.

Regular Cleanings

Regular professional cleanings can not only help get rid of coffee stains, but they can also help prevent future stains. Cleanings remove excess tartar and plaque, but they may also include polishing that can help remove surface stains.

Make sure that you’re coming in for your regular cleanings twice per year to keep your teeth looking their best.  

Eat a Snack with Your Coffee

Another way to prevent coffee stains is to eat food when you drink your coffee. Eating will activate the saliva in your mouth, which will help wash away the tannins from the coffee.

Eating foods like pears, apples or celery can take your stain prevention to the next level. These foods have a harder surface, which will actually help clean your teeth as you eat. These are also healthier snack choices that won’t contribute as much to tooth decay as a sugary snack would.

Drink Quickly or Limit Your Consumption to Certain Hours

Are you the type of person who enjoys sipping on coffee all day? Changing that habit can make a big difference. Unfortunately, slowly drinking your coffee only increases the risk of staining.  

If it takes you two to three hours to finish your thermos of coffee, that’s two or three hours that your teeth are bathing in the coffee’s tannins.

Try drinking your coffee more quickly. The quicker you drink, the less time your teeth will be exposed to the coffee.  

If you enjoy drinking your coffee slowly, then consider using a stainless-steel straw to prevent the coffee from coming into contact with your teeth.

Clean Your Teeth After Drinking

Make sure that you clean your teeth after you drink coffee. Brushing will help remove the tannins that cause discoloration.  

Depending on your coffee-drinking habits, it may not be practical or even possible to brush right after you finish your drink. If you can’t brush, try swishing water around your mouth to remove any coffee residue.

Limit Sugar in Your Coffee

Sugar in itself doesn’t necessarily affect coffee’s ability to stain your teeth, but it will contribute to tooth decay. Many coffee drinks from popular chains contain a significant amount of sugar, which can damage your oral health.

So, limit the amount of sugar you add to your coffee. Plain coffee with a splash of milk is ideal.

Small cup of coffee on white plate with brown sugar

Final Thoughts

Coffee stains are a common problem for patients. After all, coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Following the steps above, you can help reduce the coffee stains on your teeth and prevent them from returning in the future.

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Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu - Dentist at Lighthouse Dental Centre and Blue Water Dental
Dr. Gurpreet Sidhu

With nearly two decades of experience, Dr. Sidhu enjoys helping his patients learn about dentistry. Knowledge is meant to be improved, challenged and shared.

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