Pumpkin spice lattes may seem like a delicious fall treat, but their high sugar content and acidity can lead to some serious oral health risks.
While fall was once signalled by changing leaves and cool weather, more and more the season is harkened by the appearance of the famed Pumpkin Spice Latte on menu boards everywhere from coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin to fast food joints like McDonald’s. The delicious, frothy fall treat may seem like the perfect pairing with plaid and autumnal photo shoots, but it actually carries some spooky dangers for your health — including your oral health.
The Dangers of Your Pumpkin Spice Latte
Like so many other delicacies, the Pumpkin Spice Latte sadly carries some serious oral health risks due to two key components of the tasty beverage: sugar and coffee.
High Sugar Content: Pumpkin Spice Lattes are full of a lot of different sugars that are harmful to your teeth. When sugars from your food or drink come into contact with certain harmful bacteria in your mouth, the result is the creation and release of acid that attacks the enamel coating on your teeth. Not only can this lead to tooth decay, but it can also permanently damage your gums and cause gum disease. If the acid remains on your teeth for an extended period of time, it will cause cavities, which can create holes in your teeth and even progress past the enamel to cause pain or eventual tooth loss if left untreated.
How much sugar do Pumpkin Spice Lattes actually have? Well, the medium size (or grande) from Starbucks includes 50 grams of sugar. The Dunkin medium has 52 grams. Considering that the American Heart Association recommends a daily average of 37.5 grams of sugar for men and 25 grams for women, those numbers are pretty jarring. Whether you’re worried about your oral health or not (and you absolutely should be), it’s probably time to reconsider your Pumpkin Spice Latte intake if it’s a regular indulgence.
Tooth Staining: Beyond the dangers of sugar, Pumpkin Spice Lattes present another risk when it comes to oral health: Tooth staining. Like any other coffee beverage — or any dark colored food or drink — Pumpkin Spice Lattes can seriously impact the color of your teeth if you aren’t careful. While your tooth enamel may feel smooth to the touch, it’s actually full of microscopic pits, holes, and ridges all over your teeth. Those holes can trap tiny bacteria particles from food and drinks as they pass through your mouth and store them until the bacteria is removed.
That’s true of anything you ingest. The problem is that food and drinks that are darker in color or simply damaging to your teeth — like coffee — will stain your tooth enamel for as long as the bacteria particles are allowed to sit within those holes. That can result in an unpleasant, stained, yellow look on your teeth.
Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health
The good news is that the same tips that will give you good oral health overall will also help you combat the specific risks presented by Pumpkin Spice Lattes. It’s important to remember, though, that even if you follow these tips to a tee, you still won’t be able to fully eliminate the dangers of the sugary beverage. While you don’t have to cut Pumpkin Spice Lattes or other sweet beverages out of your diet entirely, it’s important that you enjoy them in moderation and that you’re conscious of the amount of sugar you’re consuming when you do.
To maintain good oral health you should:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day using a soft-bristled brush
- Floss every day
- Use mouthwash regularly
- Drink lots of water throughout the day
- Be mindful of your sugar intake
- Visit your dentist twice a year for a dental examination and professional cleaning!
When you follow all these tips, you can enjoy Pumpkin Spice Lattes or other sugary drinks in moderation. If you think you’ve been enjoying a few too many Pumpkin Spice Lattes, or if you simply think it’s time for your biannual dental cleaning, reach out to your local dentists at Espire Dental in La Mesa, California. Our dentists can help you get the healthy smile you’ve been looking for. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!