Ahh… coffee. Is there any other way to start the day? For many people their morning cup of coffee is a necessity and the only way to combat the tiredness and lethargy to face whatever life may bring. In fact, although the UK does have one of the lower coffee consumption rates in Europe, we still manage to drink of 70 million cups of coffee per day![i]
However, as much as coffee has been proven to help pep people up, it could also be fuelling anxiety in regular drinkers too. It is believed that as many as 6 million people in the UK have anxiety, and that 1 in 6 people will experience a ‘neurotic health problem’ every week.[ii] This is a significant portion of the population, and if you can count yourself as one of this number it’s important to think about what may set off your anxiety, even if it is one of your beloved daily rituals.
In simple terms, coffee can aggravate anxiety as it changes the chemical balances in the body in a number of ways. It has been proven to increase heart rate, blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. This means that a cup of coffee basically replicates the feelings that stress causes, which can quickly lead to people feeling anxious and unhappy. [iii]
Another problem caffeine can cause is that it inhibits the neurotransmitter, GABA (gamma-aminobutryic acid), which is responsible for helping us feel calm. Those with lower levels of GABA are likely to feel stressed and anxious, meaning that coffee can exacerbate this situation.
We all know sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and we also know that coffee can fight away the feelings of tiredness. As such, it makes sense that drinking too much coffee could lead to insomnia, in turn making individuals feel anxious and miserable through lack of sleep.
Even those who take medications for anxiety are not safe from the effects of coffee, and research has shown that caffeine can stop certain medications from working properly, including antidepressants and relaxants.[iv]
So what does this mean for oral health? Anxious individuals are more likely to have damaging habits such as bruxism (tooth grinding) and may also experience unpleasant oral conditions such as apthous ulcers and dry mouth. These can impact the health of your teeth and gums considerably, encouraging damage and decay.
It’s also worth remembering that coffee is already problematic as it can stain teeth and the sugar that many people add to their coffee can quickly lead to further levels of decay.
So what can you do? It may be worth exploring caffeine-free coffee alternatives or even trying to make the switch to a more beneficial beverage such as green tea if you can’t face giving up hot drinks entirely. Otherwise, making the big change to water or simply exercising moderation, especially on days where you are already feeling stressed, is probably the best way forward for both your mental and oral health.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
[i] Gimoka Coffee UK. Coffee In The UK (infographic). Link: https://www.gimokacoffee.com/news/coffee-in-the-uk-infographic.html [Last accessed April 19].
[ii] Anxiety UK. Frequently Asked Questions. Link: https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/anxiety-information/frequently-asked-questions/ [Last accessed April 19].
[iv] Drugs.com. Caffeine Drug Interactions. Link: https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/caffeine.html [Last accessed April 19].