Fall is here, and you know what that means: it’s pumpkin spice season and you’ve likely purchased up all of the pumpkin-flavored everythings!
Before you start sipping your fall-festive spice lattes, take a few minutes to consider your oral health. As with any coffee or black tea-based beverage, pumpkin spice lattes can stain your teeth. More importantly, though, many seasonally flavored coffee drinks also contain massive amounts of sugar. A 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (with 2 percent milk and whipped cream) contains a whopping 50 grams of sugar—that’s nearly as much as a soda!
All that sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth. In fact, sugary beverages are one of the most common dietary causes of tooth decay. “Drinking too much can cause a host of dental problems, including gum disease, tooth decay, dental cavities and even bad breath,” according to an article published by the Colgate Oral Care Center.
We’re not suggesting you forgo treating yourself to a pumpkin spice latte or two this fall, of course, but follow this advice to avoid or at least minimize the damage that sugary beverages can cause:
Limit your sugar intake. Cut back on how many flavored coffees you imbibe this season. Ask your barista to use only one pump of flavor rather than two or more. Also consider sugar-free flavor options, or try making your own pumpkin spice lattes at home so you can control the sugar content. Try this recipe, and reduce the amount of sugar as much as you can.
Brush your teeth as soon as possible after finishing your beverage. If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugar-free gum to remove the sugar that can cling to teeth and cause cavities.
Floss regularly. Plaque on teeth attracts pigments from dark-colored beverages that stain the surfaces of teeth. Flossing removes this plaque, preventing stains.
Use toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride. “Fluoride helps to reduce cavities and strengthen tooth enamel, so it can help to reverse the damage caused by these drinks,” according to Colgate. To whiten coffee-stained teeth, try a whitening toothpaste.
Get your teeth cleaned regularly. Routine cleanings at your dentist’s office can prevent cavities and remove many of the surface stains on your teeth, giving you a whiter smile no matter how many pumpkin spice lattes you drink this fall.