Coffee. It’s a staple of the American diet. In fact, the National Coffee Association estimates that 150 million Americans drink coffee each day, to the tune of about 3.1 cups of coffee a day- and that number only increases as we get older. It’s not hard to see why either. After all, in addition to its rich taste and boost of energy, it’s also been shown to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s, MS, colorectal cancer, heart disease, and even cavities. But up until recently, it had one major caveat: staining your teeth. That could all change, however, with the introduction of a new product called CLR CFF, a clear coffee that promises all the benefits of coffee, but without the dental stains. But is this miracle drink all it’s cracked up to be?
It seems like the perfect drink: coffee that keeps your pearly whites, well, pearly white. CLR CFF was created by two London-based brothers, who like many of us loved their coffee, but not what it did to their teeth. So, Adam and David Nagy set about developing a process to remove the rich, murky-brown color of the average cup of joe, and thus CLR CFF was born. A quick glance at the label reveals only three ingredients: water, coffee, and caffeine. In fact, the brand claims to be free of sugar, stabilizers, artificial flavors and preservatives, and the Nagy brothers insist the process of de-colorizing CLR CFF is chemical free and based on physical processing.
So, with all these benefits and none of the downsides of traditional dark roast coffee, you’re finally free to drink as much as you want, right? Not so fast.
"While it’s great that this new process de-colorizes brewed coffee, that doesn’t mean your teeth are in the clear, either," said Dr. Stephen Hill, an Allen, Texas dentist. "Brewed coffee is highly acidic, which is actually much worse for your teeth than the staining."
According to Hill, while CLR CFF may be fun to try, drinkers should proceed with caution, and remember that just because it’s clear doesn’t mean it’s water.
"Whenever you drink any kind of coffee or acidic drink, make sure you follow that drink with a glass of water to help rinse some of the acid off your teeth," Hill said.
He cautions against brushing your teeth immediately following acidic beverages, however.
"The acid in these drinks can actually temporarily soften the enamel of your teeth. If you brush too soon after drinking coffee or orange juice, for example, you could actually permanently damage the enamel of your teeth," Hill said.
Instead of immediately brushing, Hill recommends waiting at least 30 minutes, so the enamel has a chance to re-harden. As for whether or not clear coffee is better or worse than regular coffee, Hill says the clear brew definitely makes it more appealing from a dental standpoint- as long as you remember that you still need to protect your teeth as if it were a regular cup of dark roast.
"The rules of regular coffee still apply to clear coffee," he said.
So, could the introduction of clear coffee usher in an enamel crisis? It’s possible, but at $17.50 for just five bottles of CLR CFF, which is currently only available online and in select stores in the UK, consumers may not be ditching their traditional coffee anytime soon. Yet even when it does make it to the US, Hill believes there's no guarantee it will strike a chord with consumers. After all, remember Crystal Pepsi?