Can coffee stain your tongue?

In this text we will provide the answer to the question: “Can coffee stain your tongue?”. In addition, we will discuss how to protect your teeth and tongue from stains caused by coffee.

Can coffee stain your tongue?

Coffee and tea can easily stain the elongated papillae of your tongue, especially if you consume too much. Frequent or excessive consumption of coffee and teas, for example, can lead to the appearance of dark spots on the tongue, which is not indicative of any other serious problem. 

What to do: In these cases, the recommendation is to improve oral hygiene habits so that the dark spots disappear easily.

How to protect teeth and tongue from stains caused by coffee?

To protect your teeth from stains caused by coffee, you should brush your teeth after consumption, rinse your mouth with water and consume detergent foods.

The color of teeth comes from an inner layer that we cannot see, called dentin. Tooth enamel works as a covering for the dentin, protecting it. That is, each time this enamel is affected, the tooth is more exposed, increasing the absorption of pigments from what we eat. 

Coffee is part of this whole story because it is not only a pigmented drink, but also an acidic one, and the acid in the coffee can stain the surface of the enamel. So, not to take that risk, check out some tips that can help.

Brush your teeth after consumption

To reduce the damage it can cause to your teeth, the tip is to brush your teeth after drinking coffee. This is the best way to avoid stains on your teeth caused by one of the most consumed drinks in the country. 

In this way, the dye is quickly removed from the tooth surface, making yellowing difficult due to direct contact with the substance. In addition, the fluoride in toothpaste remineralizes the enamel, strengthening it.

Mouthwash with water

If you can’t brush your teeth right after having your coffee, at least bet on a mouthwash with water. This measure already helps to prevent the dye or acidity from staying in the mouth, in addition to returning lost saliva. Without enough saliva production to naturally rinse your mouth, coffee stains produce the unsightly brown or yellow stains on your smile.

Consume detergent foods

Another way to lend a hand to oral hygiene in this case is by eating so-called detergent foods. Fruits like apples and pears clean the teeth superficially during chewing and even prevent oral problems such as gingivitis, bad breath and cavities. 

The fibers in these foods also increase the production of saliva and pH in the mouth, decreasing acidity. Allied to these precautions, it is always good to avoid excessive consumption of coffee, without the need to eliminate it from your life. Just take simple care not to harm your white smile.

What does the appearance of your tongue have to say about your health?

The tongue can provide us with valuable clues about our health — not just oral health, but also about the status of certain organs and the presence of certain diseases. Changes in color, appearance of nodules and even changes in texture should never be neglected. 

The normal coloring and appearance of the tongue will vary from one individual to the next, depending on factors such as age, genetics and habits.

As a rule, however, there are some cases that require a consultation with a dentist or a stomatologist, the most suitable professionals to make a correct diagnosis. Roughly speaking, everyone should observe the following characteristics: 

Pink coloration

A healthy tongue should have a light pink coloration over its entire surface. The appearance is “lively”, with no different colored dots — such as white or brown patches. Red color: red dots may indicate infectious conditions (scarlet fever, Kawasaki disease, feverish syndromes) or nutritional deficiency, especially anemias, vitamin B12 and B6 deficiency caused by malabsorption or low food intake. 

Nutritional deficiency anemias are common in alcoholics, patients with anorexia, and people who have undergone bariatric surgery. Vegetarians and vegans without vitamin supplementation can also be part of the group of deficiency anemias. 

A reddened or red-spotted tongue also requires a visit to the cardiologist as it can signal the presence of heart disease.

Violet or bluish coloration

Usually indicates diseases that modify the flow of oxygenation in the blood, leading to a state called cyanosis. Some examples: cyanotic (Tetralogy of Fallot, Ebstein Anomaly or Eisenmenger Syndrome), pulmonary (pulmonary emphysema or pulmonary infections) and hematological (polycythemia, sickle cell anemia, methemoglobinemia) heart diseases. 

Cyanide or insecticide gas poisoning and exposure to fire smoke can also cause the tongue to turn purple or bluish.


A buildup of keratin can cause the tongue to turn black. Keratin is a protein present in the skin, hair and nails. A buildup of keratin can cause the tongue to turn black and hairy.

This buildup can result from:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Use of medications, such as certain antibiotics
  • Smoking
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, which affects the facial nerves
  • Radiotherapy
  • Drinking dark liquids – such as coffee or black tea – can also darken the tongue
  • In rare cases, a black tongue results from a more serious health condition, such as diabetes or HIV


In this text we provided the answer to the question: “Can coffee stain your tongue?”. In addition, we discussed how to protect your teeth and tongue from stains caused by coffee.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.