Blame sugar, not coffee

Posted by watchmen
May 5, 2021
Posted in OPINION

On the upside, the polyphenols in coffee make the teeth strong by reducing the acid and plaque output of oral bacteria. Better yet, omitting the sugar, creamer or extra pumps of syrup prevents bacterial formation and decay.

While we are in the subject of imbibing, it’s been said that Filipinos drink a lot of coffee.

And it’s true. The Philippine Coffee Board has observed the rising consumption of coffee in all forms: roast and ground, instant or specialty. It estimates that some 170,000 metric tons of coffee are consumed each year in these islands. That’s a lot of spike compared to, say, 2002 when coffee consumption was just 75,000MT.

Indeed, up to 135,000 MT of coffee worth about P7 billion is imported from other countries just to satisfy the national desire for a cup of joe.

So, are Filipinos drinking too much coffee that it impact on their health, especially oral health?

True, coffee may stain the teeth. Overall though, blame the sugar and not the coffee for bad oral health.

There are various ways to prevent staining. These include brushing the teeth regularly or even after each and every meal and drinking coffee and other liquids that may cause staining.

Dentists, however, agree that excessive sugar consumption is a no-no in maintaining good oral health. This is because oral bacteria feeds on sugar that attaches to the teeth; those bacteria cause tooth decay and cavity formation.

It’s easy to calculate the amount of sugar one consumes. One teaspoon of sugar is about four grams. One may look at the ingredients list found on canned or bottled coffee, for example, and determine many grams of sugar went into the drink and divide it by 4. The answer indicates how many “lumps” of sugar was used.

CBS News, a media group in the United States, reports that a popular coffee chain puts 11 to 18 “lumps” of sugar to its popular coffee drinks that comes with options from chocolate to flavored syrups to whipped cream.

According to the website of the Sacramento Dentistry Group, studies show that drinking coffee   in moderation is good for the liver, has antioxidant properties and may reduce the risk of cancer while decaf coffee is good for Type 2 diabetics.

It says: “Coffee drinkers should delight to know that, in general, coffee is not bad for teeth. It  certainly stains teeth, and coffee users tend to have yellower teeth as a result. It is acidic, but far less so than sodas and even juices. What people put in their coffee, however, is another matter, and these things can be bad for the teeth.”

“Coffee in moderation has many nutritional benefits,” says Nasir Bashirelahi, a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry. “It is a stimulant, so be sure to stop drinking it early enough so it doesn’t interfere with sleep. For most people, because coffee may help prolong life, the benefits outweigh the risks, such as tooth staining.”

Five cups a day should be the max, she says, pointing out that pregnant women and people with high blood pressure should limit their caffeine intake to just two cups of regular coffee a day, again the  maximum. No caffeine is better for those with hypertension and pregnant women should just take decaffeinated coffee if they couldn’t avoid java.

On the upside, the polyphenols in coffee make the teeth strong by reducing the acid and plaque output of oral bacteria. Better yet, omitting the sugar, creamer or extra pumps of syrup prevents bacterial formation and decay.

To prevent staining, using a straw to drink coffee – or even sodas – prevent direct contact with acidic liquid./WDJ

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