In Praise of Coffee

This is good for your teeth

Good news for coffee, red wine, and beer drinkers – have more!

Researchers at Boston University wanted to know if coffee consumption contributed to tooth & gum disease. To their surprise they found that not only did it not contribute to it, they found that drinking coffee reduced bone loss in teeth due to tooth and gum disease.

It was an impressive study. These top-of-the-line researchers followed 1,152 men at the U.S. Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs over a 30 year period. They were careful to control for other risk factors such as education, diabetes status, body mass index, smoking, frequency of brushing and flossing, and recent periodontal treatment or dental cleanings.

The reason for the coffee effect? Antioxidants – a complicated term but all we have to understand is that they’re a good thing. Coffee is a major dietary source of antioxidants as well as of other anti-inflammatory factors. And this is where red wine and lager beer come in – they too are loaded with antioxidants.

And so are these guys!

Another study published this year found further good effects of coffee on your teeth. Apparently black coffee will protect your teeth from decay by fighting plaque. It works by breaking up the bacteria around your teeth and by promoting the release of calcium. Coffee, it turns out, works just like an antibiotic.

And that’s important because we’re learning that antibiotics are not who we thought they were – they have huge costs associated with them. Antibiotics will knock out your good bacteria that help you fight disease; they will increase your risk of contracting clostridium difficile which causes severe diarrhea and death; and antibiotic use drives the increase in bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics in both you and the population at large.

One more thing – go easy on the sugar. The researchers who found that coffee reduced dental plaque used black, strong, and unsweetened Coffea canephora. They caution that milk, cream, (these are sugar-based products), and especially sugar itself, will have a counterproductive effect. Hmm, I get the pure sugar thing, but I thought milk built strong bones and teeth?

Well, perhaps we will just have to compensate with more red wine & beer – I mean, antioxidants.

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