Chugging a daily cup of joe may have you spewing sour coffee breath, but it also might pack some sweet rewards, too. Research from Boston University suggests that drinking coffee can help protect your chompers from periodontal disease, the inflammation of your gums and jawbone.

After studying more than 1,000 men for up to 30 years, the researchers found that those who drank one or more cups of coffee each day had fewer teeth with bone loss--the hallmark of periodontal disease which can lead to loosening and ultimately loss of your teeth. The researchers also found no evidence that even moderate or heavy coffee drinking was associated with any other markers of periodontal damage, such as bleeding of the gums or development of bacteria-collecting pockets around the teeth. (Is there a more brain-dead time than the 2 minutes you spend brushing your teeth? Discover the 8 biggest oral-care problems, and find out everything you need to know for healthier teeth, stronger gums, and better breath.)

The researchers believe that the antioxidants in the coffee may explain the protective measure of the brew.

“They could be muting the body’s own inflammatory processes that normally would be harmful to the gums and the jawbone supporting the teeth,” said study author Raul Garcia, D.M.D. (The oil pulling teeth whitening trend is popular again, but it may make you want to gag. Would You Do THIS for Whiter Teeth?)

Now, coffee will still stain your teeth, Garcia said, but you don’t have to worry about it leading to any dental demise. Plus, it’s less acidic than many other common beverages, like fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks. According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, all of those drinks--but not coffee--were shown to weaken teeth’s protective enamel. (Could a jolt of java keep diabetes at bay? See how to Fend Off Disease with Coffee.)