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How drinking pumpkin spice lattes can affect your teeth

BY Dr Jay Joshi

25th Oct 2023 Health

3 min read

How drinking pumpkin spice lattes can affect your teeth
It's the season for pumpkin spice lattes—but the delicious drink is not good for your teeth, as a dentist tells us. Like with everything that we consume, moderation is key

Are Pumpkin Spice Lattes generally considered bad for you?

“Pumpkin spice lattes, like many flavoured coffee drinks, are not inherently 'bad' for you, but they can have negative health effects when consumed in excess. They often contain high levels of added sugars and can be calorie-rich, potentially contributing to weight gain and an increased risk of conditions like diabetes.
"Enjoying a pumpkin spice latte in moderation as an occasional treat is a reasonable approach "
Additionally, the acidity in coffee can erode tooth enamel, leading to dental issues, and the dark colour can stain teeth over time. Enjoying a pumpkin spice latte in moderation as an occasional treat is a reasonable approach to avoid the potential health downsides associated with these sweet and flavourful beverages.”

How does drinking a PSL affect my teeth?

A pumpkin spice latte can negatively affect your teeth in several ways:
Sugar content: Many pumpkin spice lattes are loaded with added sugars, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities as the sugar feeds harmful oral bacteria.
Acidity: Coffee, which is a key component of lattes, is acidic. The acid can erode tooth enamel over time, making your teeth more vulnerable to damage and sensitivity.
Staining: The dark colour of coffee can lead to tooth staining over time, affecting the appearance of your teeth.
Drying effect: Coffee is a diuretic, which means it can lead to a dry mouth by increasing urine production. A dry mouth can reduce saliva, which helps protect your teeth against acid and bacteria.
"Many pumpkin spice lattes are loaded with added sugars, which can lead to tooth decay and cavities"
Caloric content: If your pumpkin spice latte is made with whole milk and topped with whipped cream, it can be calorie-rich. Excess calorie intake can contribute to weight gain, which can indirectly affect your oral health.
Caffeine: Caffeine can contribute to teeth grinding, which can lead to dental issues such as worn enamel and jaw pain.
Poor hydration: If you consume pumpkin spice lattes to the detriment of drinking water, it can contribute to dehydration, which can affect your overall health and potentially your oral health.
Tooth sensitivity: The combination of sugar, acidity, and temperature in a hot pumpkin spice latte can lead to tooth sensitivity in some individuals.
credit tenkende

How can I enjoy a PSL without damaging my teeth?

Dr Jay Joshi, Principal Dentist at MKDental explains: “You can enjoy a pumpkin spice latte without significantly impacting your dental health by following these tips:
Moderation: Limit your consumption of pumpkin spice lattes to occasional treats rather than a daily habit. This reduces the frequency of exposure to sugar and acidity.
Choose a smaller size: Opt for a smaller serving size to minimise sugar and caffeine intake.
Sugar control: Ask for your latte with less syrup or sweetener, or choose a sugar-free option if available. This reduces the sugar content.
Don't sip constantly: Avoid sipping on your latte throughout the day. The longer your teeth are exposed to sugar and acidity, the greater the potential for damage.
Use a straw: If possible, use a straw to consume your latte to reduce direct contact with your teeth.
Water rinse: After enjoying your latte, rinse your mouth with water. This can help wash away some of the sugar and acid.
"After enjoying your latte, rinse your mouth with water to help wash away some of the sugar and acid"
Wait to brush: Don't brush your teeth immediately after consuming acidic beverages like coffee. Wait at least 30 minutes to allow your enamel to reharden, as brushing right away can potentially cause enamel damage.
Maintain good oral hygiene: Regularly brush and floss your teeth to remove plaque and prevent tooth decay.
Dental check-ups: Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings to catch and address any dental issues early.
Consider alternatives: If you're concerned about the impact on your teeth, consider other coffee or tea options with lower sugar and acidity, or explore herbal teas and other low-sugar beverages.
"Remember, the key is moderation and balance. Enjoying a pumpkin spice latte occasionally is unlikely to harm your teeth significantly, but daily or excessive consumption can increase the risk of dental issues.”

Banner credit: bhofack2
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