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Americans love their coffee. According to a recent National Coffee Association survey, 83 percent of adults drink coffee in the U.S. and this is up from 78 percent the year before.

While most Americans are aware that regularly consuming the brown drink can stain teeth yellow, many are less aware of one of the dental benefits of drinking coffee: less tooth decay.

Streptococcus mutans, also referred to as s. mutans, is an oral bacteria that can be found in the bodies of most humans and has been implicated by researchers for the majority of human cavities.  Studies have found that coffee serves as an antibacterial against s. mutans denying the bacteria the ability to stick on the tooth enamel. Going into more detail comparing green unroasted coffee samples with roasted coffee, the roasted coffee was shown to be much more effective against bacteria. Comparing regular coffee with decaf, there was little difference in effectiveness against s. mutans. Both work equally well to counteract the bacteria. Key to coffee’s “anti-adhesive activity,” according to the ScienceDaily.com summary, is that a water-soluble compound that “contributes to the aroma and flavor” of coffee. That warm roasted goodness in your cup of Joe is good to the last drop.

In order to counteract the negative staining effects of coffee, there are a few steps you can take. If you have access to your toothbrush or mouthwash, give your teeth a good cleaning. If not, drink water or some other non-staining liquid to wash away the remaining coffee residues. When you drink your coffee, consider using a straw to minimize contact with your teeth. Also, you could add some variety to your hot drink regimen. Green tea is also very, very effective against s. mutans bacteria.