Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the US. About 83% of Americans drink coffee, and 64% of Americans drink a cup of coffee every day. As a result, Americans drink an average of about three cups of coffee a day. That makes Americans the biggest consumers of coffee in the world, although the Finns drink more per capita.

Unfortunately, a side effect of this coffee habit can be prematurely old-looking smiles. You might be surprised at all the ways that coffee can make your smile look older.

middle aged couple sitting with cups of coffee in living room at home. Is the coffee making them look older?

Staining

Of course, you probably guessed that coffee makes your smile look older thanks to staining. Coffee is a very dark-colored beverage, and the organic molecules and even suspended solids in the drink can get trapped by the ridges in your enamel. This can cause your teeth to become discolored.

Since our teeth start out bright white in color and gradually grow darker with age, discolored teeth make people assume you are older. So if you’ve got a heavy coffee habit, the odds are good that people look at your smile and think you are older than you’d like.

Decay and Disease

But it isn’t just discoloration that makes your smile look older. Oral health problems, which also increase with age, can make people assume that you’re older. While coffee itself isn’t harmful to your oral health, and may even have some moderate protective effects, there’s something else in the coffee that can be bad for your oral health: sugar.

About two-thirds of coffee drinkers add sugar to their java. And it’s a considerable amount, too, about three teaspoons of sugar each day. That’s about one per cup, which isn’t too bad if you think about it.

However, people who buy coffee-related drinks from coffee shops (like lattes and mochas), may be getting a lot more sugar. In fact, some of those drinks have as much as 20 teaspoons of sugar in them! And it’s those drinks that can supercharge harmful bacteria in your mouth, the bacteria that have evolved to exploit free sugar in the mouth. When these bacteria bloom out of control, you will be at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. This leads to visible problems like cavities and receding gums that make your smile look older.

Increased Wear

But perhaps the most surprising way that coffee can make your smile look older is by increasing the wear on your teeth. When we’re young, our teeth are taller and have different heights. As we get older, wear causes our teeth to get shorter and become more uniform in height. This is an aged smile.

If you drink a lot of coffee, you’re more likely to clench and grind your teeth. In fact, a study showed you’re 40% more likely to grind your teeth if you drink 8 or more cups of coffee a day (this data comes from a Finnish study, obvs). Clenching and grinding your teeth can dramatically accelerate the wear on your teeth.

The impact of worn teeth goes beyond the appearance of your smile. It can lead to a vertical collapse of your profile. As the support of bone and teeth diminishes, it can look like you have “excess” skin and fat in the face, leading to jowls, turkey neck, wrinkles around the mouth, and other common signs of aging.

Rejuvenate Your Appearance

If you are experiencing effects like discolored teeth, poor oral health, and worn teeth, we can help reverse these effects and rejuvenate your smile–and your profile.

For simple tooth stains, teeth whitening works wonders. If you have decayed teeth, tooth-colored fillings can repair your teeth, with no sign that you had cavities. Plus, gum disease treatment can help you enjoy better oral health. Finally, we can restore worn teeth to give you back your youthful facial proportions. It’s like a non-surgical facelift.

To learn more about reversing the effects of coffee and other sources of damage on your smile, please call (314) 375-5353 today for an appointment with St. Louis cosmetic dentist Dr. Chris Hill at City Smiles, with offices downtown and in Clayton.