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3150 North Elm Street, Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408

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Greensboro Dental Clinic, Dr. Margaret Szott

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September 16, 2019

Pumpkin Spice, not so nice for your teeth

While chilly, autumn nights might bring sugar and spice and everything nice - those pumpkin spice lattes might not be so nice for your teeth. Whether from Starbucks, McDonald's, Dunkin’ Donuts, or even your local grocery store, the yummy smell of pumpkin spice and coffee can easily be found. However, do you know what is in your favorite fall drink and how it affects your teeth?

Your basic pumpkin spice latte or PSL is not so comforting to your dental health. While it blends the sweet and savory taste of pumpkin with your favorite morning ritual it also has two ingredients very harmful to teeth - sugar and coffee. No matter where you purchase your PSL, it is filled with lots of different sugars that prove harmful to your teeth and can cause tooth decay and gum disease.

Sugar, not so sweet for teeth

In our mouth alone, we have around 8 billion discovered bacteria. There are good bacteria and there are bad bacteria and unfortunately for us, plaque is full of the harmful kind. When you consume a large amount of sugar and simple starches the bad bacteria in your mouth feeds on the food source and quickly overpopulates your mouth, creating a plaque that damages teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel causing cavities, it can also cause the early stage of gum disease called gingivitis.


Have you ever heard the saying, “If it can stain your clothes, it can stain your teeth?” Coffee contains an ingredient call tannin, which is a type of polyphenol that breaks down in the water. Tannins can also be found in tea and wine, but this ingredient causes color compounds to stick to your teeth. When compounds stick, they can leave an unwanted yellow tint behind and it only takes one cup of coffee a day to cause stained teeth. Along with color stained teeth, coffee can also cause bad breath because it sticks to the tongue. To combat this, don’t forget to eat food before your coffee and use a tongue scraper and toothbrush after you finish your morning cup.

How to enjoy a PSL, while also caring for your teeth.

Brushing your teeth every day, twice a day and flossing at least once a day cleanses your mouth of the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay and other oral issues. Brushing regularly helps remove the effects of sugar stuck on your teeth and significantly reduces any chances of staining or bad breath issues from coffee. However, it is also recommended to visit your dentist bi-annually for a check-up so they are able to catch any problem areas and give your teeth a professional cleaning to remove any build-up of tartar that is missed by regular brushing. It is okay to get in the spirit of the season, but limit your pumpkin spice lattes and make it an occasional treat.

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3150 North Elm Street
Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
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