The one change that didn’t work: I gave up coffee – and got hooked on energy drinks

When my dentist mentioned my stained teeth, I decided to quit coffee and tea. But the sugar-free drinks I started downing left me with nasty jitters

Vanity made me do it. I had been to the dentist and, in between poking horrible things into my mouth, she asked if I drank a lot of coffee. “Unhhyeahhhh!” I said, as best I could. (Why do dentists always talk to you when it’s obvious you’re in no position to answer?) “I can tell!” she said. “There’s a lot of staining. Try drinking less coffee.” I gurgled something in agreement, while indignantly thinking that the dentist should try brushing up on her social skills. Still, I immediately resolved to cut down.

Actually, vanity was probably only 90% of the impetus to reduce my coffee intake. The other 10% was patriotic pride. I’m a Brit in the US – and we all know the reputation that Brits have when it comes to their teeth. I felt I had a duty to try and counter that reputation. I decided to give up coffee and tea (equally bad for the teeth), but I didn’t want to give up caffeine, so I came up with a cunning plan: instead of drinking five to eight teas and coffees a day, I started drinking five to eight sugar-free energy drinks a day. With a straw, obviously.

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