Does Coffee Hurt Your Gums?

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Many people start their day with a cup of coffee to wake up and feel energized. For some, it is “the drink of life.” However, coffee can have effects on your teeth and gums that you might not be aware of. Luckily, there are ways you can protect your oral health while enjoying your favorite drink. 

Does Coffee Hurt Your Gums?

How Coffee Can Affect Your Gums

While coffee is not directly harmful to your gums, it can contribute to several issues that may affect your gum health indirectly. 

Staining Your Teeth

One of the most noticeable effects of coffee is that it can stain your teeth. Coffee contains dark pigments called tannins. These can stick to your teeth and cause them to turn yellow or brown over time. While stained teeth don’t directly hurt your gums, poor oral hygiene practices that lead to staining can also lead to gum disease.


Coffee is quite acidic. The acid in coffee can weaken the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay and cavities. If you develop cavities, it can lead to gum disease if not treated. Additionally, drinking acidic drinks like coffee can irritate your gums, especially if you already have gum problems.

Dry Mouth

Caffeine in coffee can reduce saliva production, leading to a dry mouth. Saliva is important because it helps wash away food particles and bacteria from your mouth. When you have less saliva, bacteria can build up more easily, leading to plaque and gum disease.

Sugary Additives

Many people like to add sugar, flavored syrups, or cream to their coffee. These sugary additives can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. The sugar provides food for bacteria in your mouth, which can lead to plaque buildup and gum irritation.

Signs That Coffee Might Be Hurting Your Gums

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, it’s important to watch for signs that your gums might be suffering. Here are some symptoms to look out for:

Red, Swollen Gums: This can be an early sign of gum disease. If your gums are frequently red and swollen, it could be due to plaque buildup from drinking coffee.

Bleeding Gums: If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, it’s a sign that they’re not healthy. Coffee’s acidic nature can weaken your gum tissue.

Bad Breath: Caffeine can cause a dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath. If your breath is persistently bad, it might be due to a lack of saliva and increased bacteria.

How to Protect Your Gums If You Drink Coffee

The good news is that you don’t have to give up coffee to protect your gums. Drinking water alongside your coffee can help wash away some of the acids and sugars that might stick to your teeth and gums. It can also help keep your mouth hydrated, reducing the risk of dry mouth. Additionally, drinking coffee through a straw can help minimize contact with your teeth and gums. This can reduce the staining and acidic effects on your teeth.

Some types of coffee are lower in acid than others. Look for coffee labeled as low-acid to reduce the impact on your teeth and gums. You should also try to reduce the amount of sugar, flavored syrups, and cream you add to your coffee. If you need some sweetness, consider using a sugar substitute.