Americans love their morning cup of Joe, but the habit could be damaging their teeth. Sixty-four percent of Americans age 18 or over said they enjoyed a cup of coffee the previous day in 2018, according to a survey commissioned by the National Coffee Association. Indeed, Americans collectively drink more coffee than anyone on the planet, consuming 400 million cups each day.
But if you’re among those who can’t live without a stop at Starbucks to get you going in the morning, know that your liquid boost of energy can put your smile at risk.
Studies have linked caffeine use with bruxism, or nighttime teeth grinding. They found that bruxism is more prevalent in people who use alcohol, tobacco and caffeine on a regular basis. According to the National Sleep Foundation, occasional bruxism may not be harmful, but when it occurs regularly, it can cause moderate to severe tooth damage, facial pain and disturbed sleep.
Bruxism and coffee are linked, and that’s not a good thing if you’re a coffee lover. It’s a vicious cycle, really. Here’s why:
- Too much coffee can interfere with sleep. If you need lots of coffee in the morning to provide energy and focus, and more throughout the day, you may be getting too much caffeine. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has 95mg of caffeine, but rarely do people drink only 8 ounces. How about that 16-ounce “Grande”? The general rule is to keep your caffeine consumption to 200-300mg each day and abstain before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and stays in your body for several hours. Six hours after finishing your coffee, only about half the caffeine has been eliminated. So drinking a caffeinated beverage too close to bedtime can keep you awake and disrupt your sleep, according to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
- Caffeine links bruxism and coffee. The caffeine in coffee stimulates your muscles, which makes you grind harder and more often and causes further damage to your teeth, not to mention you won’t get much sleep if you’re grinding all night.
- Caffeine and grinding disrupt your sleep. So caffeine can disrupt your sleep and cause teeth grinding, which also disrupts your sleep. Waking in the morning without having gotten the restorative benefits of deep sleep means you may turn to coffee to feel more focused and awake. And the same cycle continues, day in and day out.
Bruxism and coffee are a bad combination. Teeth grinding wears away your teeth’s enamel and can even cause teeth to chip or break. Coffee contains tannins, a type of polyphenol that allow color compounds to stick to your teeth and leave an ugly yellow hue behind. Only one cup of coffee a day can stain your teeth. Coffee also causes bacteria to grow in your mouth, which can result in tooth and enamel erosion.
Experts say cutting down on caffeine can help stop the nighttime grind. If you’re grinding your teeth and drinking too much coffee, consider reducing the amount of caffeine you imbibe on a daily basis to help slow the grinding.
In addition, wearing a mouthguard at night can help protect your teeth from grinding – and make it hard to drink that bedtime latte. Visit www.sleepright.com for more.