Your morning mugful might do more than just boost your energy — it could protect your teeth, too. In a recent study, Boston University researchers discovered that men who drank one or more cups of coffee per day showed significantly less bone loss in their teeth over 30 years than those who sipped less.
Along with having sturdier (and, yes, more stained) teeth, the daily coffee drinkers showed no signs of gum disease, like bleeding gums. This was even after the researchers controlled for factors that could increase their risk, like alcohol consumption, smoking, and brushing or flossing too hard. Coffee, it seems, was an X-factor in keeping these teeth healthy.
According to study author Raul Garcia, this could be thanks to the chemical components in brewed coffee, which have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds — including caffeine, caffeic acid, and chlorogenic acid — combat the oxidative damage and inflammation that cause gum disease. Oxidative damage can also lead to a whole host of diseases that affect your whole body, like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes.
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It's not surprising then, that the more coffee the men consumed, the more their teeth benefited. "Men who drank more than six cups per day had, on average, significantly fewer teeth with moderate to severe bone loss than those who drank less than six," Garcia says. "But of course, that much coffee per day may have other negative consequences, such as sleeping problems." More than four cups a day has also been linked to irritability, rapid heartbeat, and even an increased risk of early death.
So how much coffee is ideal for your teeth? "Although we didn't report data on this, we looked into it, and we found that an average of two or more cups a day had the most benefit," Garcia says. Other experts have suggested capping your consumption at three cups. But note that if you take your coffee with sugar, you up your risk of cavities.