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When Can I Drink Coffee After Fluoride Treatment?

Updated: Jan 17

Fluoride treatment is usually recommended for those who are more prone to tooth decay. The longer that you leave it on, the more effective the treatment will be. That means if you just left the office after having fluoride done, you probably need to wait before you eat or drink anything and that includes coffee.


Are you curious as to how long you have to wait before you can have your cup of joe? Unfortunately how long you have to wait would depend on the type of fluoride treatment that you received because there are different kinds.


How long after fluoride can i have coffee?

How long you have to wait after getting fluoride before you can have coffee would depend on the type of fluoride treatment that you received. You definitely have to wait a certain amount of time but how much time is highly dependent on the type of fluoride that was administered.


The three types of topical fluoride treatment at the dentist:

  • APF fluoride gel

  • Fluoride varnish

  • Fluoride prophy paste


Each one comes in a different form and they are also applied differently as well. Consequently they also prohibit you from drinking coffee or any other beverages for a different specified amount of time.


The reason for requiring a certain amount of time for the fluoride to be left on the teeth is because all of these treatments work via a topical application. That means they work when they are in physical contact with your teeth. That is different from taking a fluoride pill which works via systemic pathways.


APF fluoride gel treatment

The fluoride treatment with APF gel requires at least 30 minutes of no eating or drinking. This means that you need to wait at least half an hour before you have your cup of coffee if you got fluoride gel treatment.


kolorz apf fluoride gel
kolorz apf gel

The time that you have to wait before you drink your coffee isn't determined by your dentist but rather by the manufacturer of the fluoride gel. We have instructions from two different brands that both seems to have recommended to wait 30 minutes.


Instructions from different manufacturers:

  • This is the instruction sheet for kolorz APF fluoride gel, which says to wait 30 minutes.

  • Here is an instruction sheet for nupro fluoride gel, which also says to wait 30 minutes prior to eating or drinking.


How to tell if you had the fluoride gel treatment

You may not have even known that there were different types of fluoride treatment. The easiest way is to simply ask your dentist what you got. However if you have already left the office and don't know what type of treatment you received here is a way to tell.


The vast majority of the APF fluoride gels are usually applied using a fluoride tray. Your dentist will squirt the material into a soft foam tray and then you bite into it. Then you wait for the stated amount of time before you can spit out.


Here is a video showing the APF fluoride gel treatment in action:



Fluoride varnish treatment

After fluoride varnish treatment you should wait about 2-4 hours before you brush or floss. You may eat and drink afterwards but they recommend softer foods. They also FORBID hot drinks afterwards even though they say you can drink immediately after. We take this as an implication that you should wait 2-4 hours before drinking hot coffee after fluoride varnish treatment.


medicom duraflor ultra - fluoride varnish
Varnish

For the varnish, the amount of time that you have to wait may vary depending on the brand and manufacturer. Here are two examples from Medicom and 3M.

  • The Medicom Duraflor sodium fluoride varnish has instructions saying that you should wait at least 2-4 hours prior brushing and flossing. You can eat and drink immediately afterwards except for hot drinks like coffee. We presume the coffee requires the 2-4 hours wait time.

  • The 3M Vanish sodium fluoride varnish says that you should wait at least 4 hours prior to flossing and brushing. It is similar to the Medicom in that you can eat and drink immediately afterwards. Although once again, they also forbid hot drinks right afterwards. That also means you should wait at least 4 hours before you drink your hot coffee.


When compared to the fluoride gel it seems like the varnish does permit drinking and eating immediately afterwards. The wait time seems to be for brushing, flossing, and drinking hot beverages like coffee.


We do want to point out an interesting fact and that is 3M's instruction saying that it is actually preferable to wait 24 hours before brushing and flossing. Apparently that will maximize the effect of the fluoride treatment.


Can you wait 24 hours before you drink your coffee?


How to tell if you had fluoride varnish treatment

A tell tale sign that you had the fluoride varnish treatment is that your teeth will feel very sticky afterwards. The sensation is like caramel that is stuck to your teeth. The varnish is similar in that it gets painted directly onto your teeth and it literally just sticks to the enamel.


That is the delivery mechanism for the varnish. It utilizes a sticky substance to hold the fluoride against your enamel. This is in contrast to the fluoride gel treatment which uses a soft foam tray to hold it against your teeth.


Here is a video of the treatment to give you a visual idea:



Fluoridated prophy paste

You may not have been aware but the polishing paste that you usually receive at the end of your dental cleaning is actually fluoridated. This is a type of fluoride treatment that everyone receives regardless of how prone you are to cavities. It is very similar to toothpaste except that it is significantly more concentrated in fluoride.


prophy paste

After getting the fluoridated prophy paste treatment you don't actually need to wait at all to eat and drink. You can have your cup of coffee immediately after this polishing paste. There are no restrictions at all.


After all, do you wait to drink coffee after you brush your teeth at home?


How to tell if you got the fluoride prophy paste at the dentist

This is literally the polishing step at the end of your teeth cleaning. Most people refer to it as "teeth polishing" which is indeed true but it is also chock full of fluoride.


Basically the polishing paste at the end of your cleaning is over 8x more concentrated in fluoride. You may have thought it was just polishing but it was more than that because it also happens to be extra concentrated in fluoride.


Here is a video showing teeth polishing with a fluoridated prophy paste:



Summary table of how long to wait

This is a table which summarizes how long you should wait to drink coffee after your fluoride treatment. It really depends on the type of treatment that you received.


Type of fluoride treatment

How long to wait

APF fluoride gel

30 mins

Fluoride varnish

2-4 hours

Fluoridated prophy paste

None


Do I really have to wait to drink coffee after fluoride?

The recommendation is that you should wait for the stated time prior to drinking coffee after fluoride. That is if you want to get the maximum benefit out of your treatment. You should definitely do that especially if you had to pay out of pocket for the fluoride.


Not all dental insurances cover fluoride treatment for adults. Therefore if you wanted to get the most value out of your money spent, it would behoove you to wait as long as possible.


With that being said, if you really didn't care about getting the maximum benefit out of the fluoride you can drink your coffee immediately afterwards. The treatment does not incapacitates you nor does it really prevent you from doing so.


However if you are able to be patient and wait for the amount of time needed, your teeth will be healthier and thank you.


The longer you wait the more effective the fluoride will be

We would like to reiterate an important point and that is the longer you wait before eating or drinking the more beneficial the fluoride will be. All of these fluoride treatments apply it topically which means that it works based on having it in contact with your teeth.


The longer you are able to keep it on your teeth undisturbed from coffee or other foods, the longer it is able to work. In fact, the 3M Vanish sodium fluoride instructions specifically say that it would be even better if you waited 24 hours before brushing and flossing. That is a pretty difficult goal to achieve, which is why they offered an alternative recommendation of only waiting 4 hours.


Nonetheless, the fact that they even mentioned that statement should give you an idea into how the fluoride works. The question is, do you want to take advantage of everything that it has to offer you?

Each of these treatments come in a different form and thus work differently. The recommended waiting time is what the manufacturer has determined to be an optimal value to benefit ratio. However the longer that you wait, even past their recommended time can provide even greater benefits in strengthening your teeth.


It all depends on how much do you want to get out of your fluoride treatment?

How fluoride strengthens your teeth

Your teeth are made of hydroxyapatite but when fluoride comes into contact with it, it can transform into fluorapatite. It does so by having the fluoride ion replace the hydroxyl group. That is the mechanism for how fluoride strengthens your teeth.


  • Increased resistance to acid dissolution.

  • Decreases mineral solubility.

  • Increased stability of mineral structure.

  • Promotes remineralization to reverse cavities.


Overall this new structure is a more superior and stable one. It will protect your teeth against cavities by preventing formation of new ones and even potentially reversing small ones that have already started.


Despite all of these wonderful benefits, one thing that fluoride won't do is whiten your teeth!


Takeaway

How long after fluoride you can have coffee would depend on the type of fluoride treatment. The waiting time differs based on the type of fluoride and may also differ depending on the manufacturer.


Wait times for each type of treatment:

  • The fluoride gel recommends that you wait about 30 minutes.

  • The fluoride varnish recommends that you wait 2-4 hours.

  • You can drink coffee immediately if you wanted to for the prophy paste.


Each of these treatments come in a different form and thus work differently. The recommended waiting time is what the manufacturer has determined to be an optimal value to benefit ratio. However the longer that you wait, even past their recommended time can provide even greater benefits in strengthening your teeth.


It all depends on how much do you want to get out of your fluoride treatment?

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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