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Inside Dental Hygiene
October 2020
Volume 16, Issue 10

Drink to Your Health

Katrina M Sanders, RDH, BSDH, MEd, RF

The alarm goes off, and if you're anything like me, your first reach (after the "snooze" button, of course) is for a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, grabbing coffee in the morning oftentimes means having to invest in tooth whitening later, due to the staining properties of coffee, exacerbated by its acidic properties. However, that cup of Joe may also offer health-producing properties as well.

A study in Brazil found that polyphenols contained in coffee are responsible for an antibacterial effect on dental plaque.1  Additionally, the caffeine in coffee has been shown to increase resting metabolic rate by 3% - 11%, while also reducing risk of Type II diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, dementia, heart disease, stroke, and various cancers;2 the relationship between these co-morbidities and periodontitis brews theories about additional health benefits. Coffee contains essential nutrients such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin, to name a few. In addition, a study by the American Cancer Society found that individuals who drank four or more cups per day were 49% less likely to die from oral cancer than non-cafe drinkers.3

By midday, it's time for your well-deserved tea break.  Unfortunately, sweet tea may also offer acidic add-ins that can cause cariogenic erosion, while the tannins cause the recognizable staining that hygienists are all-too-familiar with.

However, don't abandon tea quite yet: it also contains polyphenols, which have been shown to reduce gum inflammation. Mint teas can also help combat halitosis, while green teas have been shown to slow the development of various types of cancers, including oral cancer.4

If you're a Kombucha-enthusiast, remember its acidic pH below 3.5 may elevate decay risk. However, this fermented beverage also contains enzymes, B vitamins, and antioxidants to help fight inflammation, and probiotics to promote a healthy gut flora.

As you end your work day, the art of selecting the perfect glass of vino requires more than checking in with your palate. After all, not all wine is created equal. Known for its chromogens, or pigment-producing substances that cause staining, red wine also has shown protective properties against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative disorders, while also boosting gut health.5 It also contains polyphenols, which may lower the ability of bacteria to readily adhere to teeth. White wine has a greater acidity than red, leaving enamel vulnerable to stain; this is why those who switch to red after sipping white may notice more staining. Finally, the xerostomia effect of alcohol contents and its high acidity elevate decay risk for wine sippers.

That is why this sommelier (born and raised in Wisconsin) suggests enjoying your wine selection with a beautiful cheese, which is rich in casein, protein, and calcium. Enjoy!

About the Author

Katrina M Sanders, RDH, BSDH, MEd, RF
Founder, The Dental WINEgienist
Phoenix, Arizona


1. Antonio AG, Farah A, dos Santos KRN, Maia LC. The potential anticariogenic effect of coffee. In: Méndez-Vilas A, ed. Science Against Microbial Pathogens: Communicating Current Research and Technological Advances. 1st ed. Badajoz, Spain: Formatex Research Center; 2011:1027-1032.

2. What does caffeine do to your body? Medical News Today. October 16, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2020.

3. Dallas ME. Coffee may lower risk of death from mouth cancer: study. HealthDay News. December 11, 2012. Accessed August 25, 2020.

4. Weller C. Green tea polyphenol helps kill oral cancer cells by destroying mitochondria. Oral Cancer News. March 2015. Accessed August 25, 2020.

5. Smith A. Is red wine good for you? Medical News Today. April 21, 2020. Accessed August 25, 2020.

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