Can I drink coffee the day after teeth whitening?

One of the common things coffee lovers share is that they are unable to start a day without a nice big cup of coffee. However, no one really talks about the side effects of frequent coffee drinking and one of the inescapable ones is surely stained teeth!

As someone who has battled with yellow-brown stained teeth for as long as I can remember, I can empathize with anyone who would pay big bucks at their dentist office to do a bleaching treatment to make their pearly whites, well, pearly whites.

Which begs the question; can I drink coffee the day after teeth whitening?

What really happens during teeth whitening?

Professional teeth whitening and bleaching helps brighten teeth by removing surface stains. Most people can immediately see the effects of teeth whitening after a few sessions; however, their long-awaited white smile may not last very long if they do not take proper care of it.

When you get your teeth professionally whitened, the dentist usually sends you home with an array of things you need to do in order to prolong its effects, one of them being to cut back on coffee.

Sound tough? So here’s the thing; perhaps cutting down on coffee only immediately after you get your teeth done could already have great effects on how long the bleaching lasts.

An average person would pay around $650 to $1000 on teeth whitening done by a professional. Of course, the cost of bleaching could be much more depending on the severity of your stains and type of products used by your dentist. There are also many home kits for teeth whitening available in the market, ranging from a mere $80 to a high end of $800.

For most people, professional teeth whitening usually pays off much better than a kit bought over the internet, but what really happens during professional teeth whitening?

A tooth has four layers; the enamel (the surface layer that we see), the dentin, the cementum, and the pulp. When teeth get stained, food or drink pigmentation ends up clinging to the protective film of the enamel.

In order to remove this, dentists apply a whitening product, usually containing hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These agents react with oxygen which then makes the tooth colour whiter, or evidently, back to its original post-stain state.

The entire treatment is typically done within a month, requiring a few visits to your dentist in between. Your dentist may then hand over a specially designed mouthguard and whitening kit for you to continue the bleaching treatment at home.

What happens when you drink coffee right after a procedure?

woman showing her teeth while holding a coffee

Having your teeth whitened can be costly and is most definitely time consuming, so you’d definitely not want your hard work to go to waste. Although giving up coffee indefinitely isn’t something any of us would want to even think about, there are some precautionary measures you could take immediately after a procedure that could possibly prolong the lifespan of your treatment.

The hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide present in the bleach used for teeth whitening makes the tooth enamel more permeable. This means that drinking coffee, or any other drinks or foods that could stain your teeth immediately after a treatment would give these stains more opportunity to permeate your tooth, reversing the effects of the entire teeth whitening treatment and possibly giving you an even worse stain than what you originally had.

The good news is that the natural saliva in your mouth will eventually neutralize these peroxide agents, making the tooth less porous over time, preventing further stains. It is therefore advised that foods and drinks - like coffee - that are dark coloured or highly pigmented should be avoided up to 48 hours post-treatment .

The first 48 hours after teeth whitening are especially important for the bleaching agents to set, and it is important to take extra care of your teeth during this time.

Although it is advised to stay away from coffee right after your treatment, drinking coffee too frequently after getting your pearly whites done is not such a good idea either. Like with anything else, keep your coffee drinking at moderate levels and you could be enjoying that perfect smile longer than you expected.

Tips to prolong your pearly whites

lady laughing with holding a coffee

The good news for us coffee lovers is that coffee isn’t the only culprit that gives teeth the awful stain that we all despise. Other food and drinks like wine, curry and vinegar, bad habits like cigarette smoking, or natural occurrences like ageing and genetics are all factors that play a part in changing the colour of our teeth. So, coffee isn’t the only bad guy after all! Additionally, stained teeth do not necessarily mean unhealthy teeth. More people suffer from tooth decay and gum disease, and these are something to really be alarmed at, coffee drinker or not!

However, if you are still unsure about how much coffee is safe to prevent those nasty stains from coming back so quickly, I would love to be so kind as to share with you some tips in prolonging those pearlies.

Drinking with a straw

Biodegradable or metal straws are now a thing, and it’s no wonder. People have been overly using straws for the past decade and for good reason. Drinking your coffee or other highly pigmented beverages with a straw prevents these very pigments from getting into close contact with your tooth enamel, preventing stains.

It is also advisable to brush your teeth frequently, and with a proper technique in order to keep them looking white and fresh. This should be especially done, if possible, after drinking coffee. Of course, it is not always realistic to have access to a toothbrush every time you have a cuppa, so rinsing your mouth with plain water could also help lessen the probability of stains.

Visit your dentist regularly for thorough cleanings and maintenance in order to keep your teeth looking fresh and clean, and most importantly, to keep those gums healthy too!