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Don’t Let Pumpkin Spice Lattes Give You a Jack-O’-Lantern Smile!

Fall is here!  The cooler temperatures bring much enthusiasm for scarves, football, and all things pumpkin. The anticipation and excitement for Pumpkin Spice Latte season for adults is like that of Christmas for children.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes are a fun fall treat, but they should be enjoyed with caution. They could lead to a bad report at your next dental visit.

Wait!  What’s Wrong with a Pumpkin Spice Latte?

We don’t want to be party poopers on your fun fall drink, but we do want your teeth to stay healthy. It is important to know what risks exist with drinking lots of PSLs. That way, you can work to avoid the problems they could cause.

The Sugar

Have you ever stopped to think about how much sugar is in a PSL?  We need to redirect our thinking about these drinks.  Rather than thinking of them as “coffee drinks”, we should consider them just like we would a soda or other high-sugar drink.

A tall Pumpkin Spice Latte, which is 12 ounces, contains exactly the same amount of sugar as a 12 ounce Coca-Cola! They both have 39 grams of sugar, which is equivalent to about 9 1/4 teaspoons.

Can you imagine fixing your coffee in the morning and adding NINE teaspoons?

A grande PSL has about 12 teaspoons of sugar, and the venti contains more than 15!

When it comes to your teeth, a Pumpkin Spice Latte is almost as bad for you as a soda. We say “almost” because it does have the advantage over sodas of being not quite so acidic. While a soda has a pH of around 3, a PSL is only 6.45, which is less dangerous to the teeth.

The Timing

One of the factors that makes drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes more likely to cause cavities is the fact that we usually enjoy them mid-morning or mid-afternoon while out running errands. Drinking such high sugar beverages in between meals greatly increases the cavity-causing potential of those drinks.

When we chew and swallow food, our bodies naturally produce a significant quantity of saliva. This saliva is the body’s defense against the bacteria and acid that cause cavities. By enjoying your PSL with a meal, you lower the risk for cavities by fighting back with saliva.

Between meals, we do not produce that much saliva. When not eating, we only make enough to lubricate the inside of our mouths. This keeps us from drooling all over ourselves all day. By drinking these between meals, when you’re strolling the aisles at Target, you are fueling bacteria with high quantities of sugar when they are at their strongest! This increases the risk for cavities.

The other problem with timing is that most people are unlikely to rinse and/or brush their teeth soon after enjoying their Pumpkin Spice Latte. The carpool line just isn’t the easiest place for oral hygiene.

The Slow Sipping

Let’s face it. Nobody is just knocking back PSLs. They are made to be savored. The problem is that the longer you take to drink yours, the more time you expose your teeth to the sugar they contain. In fact, time is one of the most important factors in a beverage’s cavity-causing ability.

A person who drinks three sodas each day with their meals actually has a LOWER cavity risk than someone who has only one soda and sips on it all afternoon long.

The slow sipping on a PSL increases its power to give you cavities.

The Frequency

The limited-time-only nature of Pumpkin Spice Lattes can make us feel like we should drink as many as possible while we can. Unfortunately, this attitude may make us drink far more of these sugary treats than we would ever consider drinking sodas throughout the year.

This increased frequency of sugar intake also increases the risk for cavities.

How To Enjoy your PSL Without Increasing Cavity Risk

We don’t want to be the ones keeping you from your favorite fall treat! Follow these tips to lower your cavity risk while enjoying your sugary pumpkin drink.

  1. Know your cavity risk! Unfortunately, some people are just much more likely to get cavities. These people have to exercise more caution than others over what they drink between meals. If you are not sure about your cavity risk, ask Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren at your next visit. You may need to add our new line of CariFree products to your oral hygiene regimen to help fight that high cavity risk.
  2. Don’t sip! Enjoy your PSL quickly. Shorten the time you expose your teeth and the bacteria in your mouth to those high levels of sugar.
  3. Rinse and/or brush afterward. Even swishing water for a minute will help clear some of the sugar from your teeth. Ideally, brush and floss soon afterward. Removing plaque buildup gets rid of the sugar that can stick to the teeth in plaque.
  4. Don’t miss a dental visit! Let Dr. Ann, Dr. Lauren, Phyllis, and Nancy help you keep your teeth as healthy as possible. Consistent professional teeth cleanings reduce your risk for cavities.

Concerned About Other Fall Treats and Your Teeth?

Call Designer Smiles today to schedule a visit with Dr. Ann and Dr. Lauren. They will help you fight cavities and enjoy your favorite fall treats without increasing your risk for dental problems.

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