I like coffee: I like teeth

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  • Published: Jun 15, 2014
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: Atomic
thumbnail image: I like coffee: I like teeth

A Brazilian to make you smile

Antibacterial effect of coffee: calcium concentration in a culture containing teeth/biofilm exposed to Coffea Canephora aqueous extract.

If you are heading to Brazil this month, you might see a lot of happy smiling faces with great teeth. It could be down to a combination of football results and local coffee . Atomic absorption spectroscopy has been used in a new study to analyse changing concentrations of calcium in tooth enamel as it responds to the antibacterial effects of light-roast Brazilian coffee on the oral microbes, the cariogenic bacteria that cause tooth decay.

A type of coffee resistant to coffee leaf rust mostly grown in Brazil, known as Coffea canephora, as opposed to the perhaps more familiar to Western coffee fans, Coffea arabica, was the focus of recent research to investigate its antibacterial effects on oral microbes. Andréa Antonio, from Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University and colleagues. They have demonstrated that an aqueous extract prepared from light roasted C canephora beans has potential anticariogenic activity.

Calcium approximation proxy

The team used AAS to monitor calcium concentration as a proxy for tooth decay in tests of coffee extract. They fixed enamel fragments from milk teeth donated by children randomly into two 24-well polystyrene plates containing BHI, brain-heart Infusion growth media. Pooled human saliva was added to form a cariogenic bacterial biofilm (plaque) on the fragments. The team divided the specimens into treatment groups, a control, an antibiotic group, a negative control with just added water and a group to which the coffee extract was added.

The researchers determined calcium content at baseline and then at four days and one week. They explain that the cross-sectional hardness of the enamel samples was also used as an indicator for demineralization caused by the acid produced by bacterial metabolism in the biofilms. They found that calcium levels increased in the medium after four days and after one week. However, the confounding factor in the experiments is that while calcium is being lost from the enamel by bacterial action it is not released into the medium unless the bacteria are lysed by the antibiotic or by the coffee extract at which point raised calcium levels actually reflect the positive effects on killing the cariogenic bacteria and causing them to release calcium that they have absorbed from the enamel.

The dental plaque blues

"Dental plaque is a classic complex biofilm and it’s the main culprit in tooth decay and gum disease. We are always looking for natural compounds - food and drink, even - that can have a positive impact on dental health," Antonio explained to the Society for Applied Microbiology, which publishes the journal in which his research appears jointly with Wiley. It is not yet know which components of this type of coffee are having the beneficial effects on lysing cariogenic bacteria; it could be polyphenols, but those experiments are yet to take place.

"Whilst this is an exciting result, we have to be careful to add that there are problems associated with excessive coffee consumption, including staining and the effects of acidity on tooth enamel," Antonio adds. "Moreover, if you take a lot of sugar and cream in your coffee, any positive effects on dental health are probably going to be cancelled out."

Related Links

Lett Appl Microbiol, 2014, online: "Antibacterial effect of coffee: calcium concentration in a culture containing teeth/biofilm exposed to Coffea Canephora aqueous extract"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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