Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Dentist Review of Boston University’s Coffee Study

We read a study recently and, as a local dentist, wanted to share the exciting news – coffee can help your gums to stay healthier.  Boston University conducted a study over the course of thirty years.  This is not a simple, quick study.  Instead, they spent three decades observing 1,000 men.  The men that drank one or more cups of coffee a day had less bone loss in their teeth, a common sign of gum disease.  Due to the duration of the study and number of participants, it is safe to say that drinking coffee can be good for you.

The Boston researchers also evaluated whether or not heavy coffee drinking had any negative health consequences for teeth or gums.  They couldn’t find any.  We of course, want to remind patients that drinking a lot of coffee can stain your teeth and make them appear yellow.  Fortunately, our teeth whitening services can brighten teeth that have become stained, so there is an easy solution for this.

The study was authored by Raul Garcia, D.M.D. and in his findings he believes that the reason coffee lowered the risk of gum disease and bone loss was because it is an anti-inflammatory agent.  Coffee can, therefore, reduce gum swelling.  This is important since swelling is bad for the gums and can become uncomfortable.  As a dentist, we see several types of patients that have an increased risk for gum swelling including diabetics and pregnant women.  Restricted blood flow is responsible for swollen gums in these scenarios, and drinking a cup of coffee may help to reduce the swelling.

Overall, the study is fantastic news for people that can’t resist their morning cup of java.  Caffeine does have its benefits after all.  The thing to remember is that after drinking coffee, you should brush your teeth.  Unless you take your coffee black, the cream and sugar can actually be bad for your teeth.  This is because sugar can turn into acid and attack your teeth, leading to cavities.  By simply brushing your teeth, afterwards you can get the anti-inflammatory benefits without the increased risk of cavities.

As with anything, balance is important.  As a local dentist, we remind patients that it is important to continue drinking water throughout the day because staying hydrated helps with saliva production, important for a healthy mouth.  People should also brush and floss throughout the day in order to prevent gum disease and cavities from forming.  Finally, having teeth cleaned at least twice a year will provide a final line of defense against oral health issues.  No matter how hard you try, bacteria and plaque will get trapped in between teeth, along the gums and in hard to reach places.  These regular teeth cleanings give us the opportunity to remove bacteria and plaque before they create oral health issues.  If any develop, we can identify them and provide treatment right away before they can cause oral pain.  In the meantime, consider adding a daily cup of coffee to your morning routine.