I Just Learned You Can Get Cavities From Slowly Sipping Coffee, And Now I Have To Say Goodbye To The Emotional Support Cold Brew That Lives On My Desk All Day

    "Drink coffee in less than 30 minutes and rinse with water or chew sugarless gum after."

    Whether I'm working from home, bopping around town, or just strolling blissfully through Target for a self-care afternoon — of course I have my emotional support iced coffee. Wherever I go, my Venti bestie is going with me.

    Kelsie's hand holding an iced coffee with text beside it that says "we love her"

    I can tell from the hate that leaves my body after the first sip in the morning that daily caffeine makes life more enjoyable, but I know it can be harmful when it comes to teeth. I can't forget to take care of my outside bones.

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    Netflix / Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt / Via youtube.com

    As a coffee drinker and proud owner of a mouthful of teeth, I was simultaneously interested and stressed when I saw a viral TikTok created by Dr. Suhail Mohiuddin, a dentist with 13 years of experience. In the video, which has been viewed more than 1.7 million times, he shared some life-altering news for me and my fellow slow sippers everywhere:

    A still from Dr. Mohiuddin's with a caption that says his patients keep getting cavities because they sip their coffee for hours

    I had a "please say sike" reaction to this piece of information, so I reached out to Dr. Mohiuddin in hopes he could give us a bit more information to chew on (that's the only teeth-related pun in here, I promise!!) and hopefully make the news easier to digest.

    To start, Dr. Mohiuddin explained how exactly slow sipping can lead to potential cavities.

    He told BuzzFeed, "When you consume food or drinks that contain sugar or other fermentable carbohydrates, the bacteria in your mouth convert them into acid, which lowers the pH level in your mouth. The pH level in your mouth drops rapidly after eating or drinking acidic substances but typically returns to a neutral state within 30 minutes because of your saliva. But if you are sipping or snacking on acidic things, it will remain low for prolonged periods of time."

    He went on to explain, "When the pH of your mouth is below 5.5 for longer than 30 minutes, this can cause demineralization of the enamel, which can lead to cavities."

    I was hoping to hear something like, "But no worries if it's iced coffee! Enjoy at your own pace, queen." Unfortunately, I am delusional and that was not the case. When asked if there is a difference between iced and hot when it comes to demineralization, Dr. Mohiuddin responded, "Iced or hot doesn’t make a difference."

    "But, anecdotally, I find that my patients tend to sip their iced coffee for longer." 

    I know personally, I try to chug my hot coffee before it becomes hatefully room temperature and take my time sipping iced coffee throughout the day to savor it like it's the nectar of the gods. Maybe drinking hot coffee could naturally help combat this habit.

    According to Dr. Mohiuddin, this applies not just to coffee but any acidic drink, so his advice is good to keep in mind when you're drinking things like orange juice, lemonade, or cola, too.

    Popular cold and hot drinks isolated on white background

    At this point in the interview, I reached the "bargaining" stage in my coffee grief cycle and asked, "Could drinking out of straws, switching to caffeinated tea, or even decaf coffee help?" 😬

    He responded, "Straws don’t have a large impact on reducing cavity risk. Tea is typically less acidic than coffee so it causes less cavities, BUT it contains more tannins so we see more staining from tea." Additionally, "Decaf/non-decaf makes no difference."

    Dr. Mohiuddin also highlighted some warning signs to keep an eye out for if you're concerned about coffee's effect on your dental health, explaining, "Staining is typically the first sign that you are sipping too long on your coffee. Other signs include increased sensitivity or dark staining in the grooves of your teeth."

    After ruminating on this matter, I've decided that the best thing to do is listen to the doctor's orders and drink my coffee in less than 30 minutes. If you see me using this as an excuse to chug multiple coffees a day instead of slowly savoring one of them...look away. I'm trying my best!!