Pumpkin Spice Latte Madness ... But, is it Good for Your Teeth?

Pumpkin Spice Latte Madness ... But, is it Good for Your Teeth?

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PSL Madness

It probably comes as no surprise that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks' most popular seasonal drink. Everything about pumpkins - the color, the aroma, the savory flavor - screams fall. So every year coffee enthusiasts eagerly await the release of this highly anticipated beverage, then flock to the coffee shop as soon as it becomes available. At least that is how it has gone for the better part of the last 12 years, since its inception in 2003.

But the Pumpkin Spice Latte isn't your average Cup O' Joe. Recently, the beloved libation has come under fire for the large amount of calories (380) and sugar (50g) it contains. Health and fitness professionals are urging people to consume it like they would any dessert: in moderation. And while most health professionals are worried about the damage the Pumpkin Spice Latte can do to people's waistlines, dentists are more concerned with the impact it could have on their patients' teeth.

The bad news is that any way you look at it, the amount of sugar in your beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte, along with the length of time you spend sipping it down, is a recipe for tooth decay. The good news is that you can still satisfy your autumnal craving for pumpkin goodness by preparing and consuming it in different, delicious, healthier ways — and actually improve your dental and overall health while doing it.

Mouth-Healthy Vitamins and Minerals in Pumpkins

Zinc keeps your bones strong. Zinc deficiency is associated with poor dental health, weak bones and bleeding gums. Other problems associated with zinc deficiency include weakened bones, a loss of hair, and anemia. 1 oz of roasted pumpkin seeds (about 85 seeds) gives you 3 mg of zinc, or about a third of your daily needs.

Iron, which is found in pumpkin seeds, keeps your tongue healthy.

Magnesium takes care of your tooth enamel. Magnesium works with calcium to create a hard enamel that resists tooth decay. Calcium alone is less effective in forming a hard enamel. Magnesium is also a key element in bone production, the immune system, and even keeping the heart in rhythm. Only one ounce of pumpkin seeds provides more than a third of your daily magnesium needs.

Vitamin A promotes healing, which is helpful for damaged gums. One cup of pumpkin gives you all the vitamin A you need in a day.

Vitamin C: 20% of your needed daily allowance is found in 1 cup of pumpkin. This vitamin fortifies your immune system, which helps starve off infections and inflammation in your mouth.

Take One for the Team and Ditch the Sugar

So if you are looking for a way to get your pumpkin fix this season while keeping your teeth healthy and physique fit, just minimize or eliminate the sugar. As tough as it may be, consider replacing your daily PSL with these healthy pumpkin options:

Pumpkin seeds: From the store or straight from the gourd, these baked snacks are packed with flavor and good-for-your-teeth vitamins. They are easy to prepare and pack for lunch or an in-between-meal snack.

Pumpkin smoothie: Incorporate canned pumpkin into your breakfast or workout smoothie. It pairs well with coconut milk and almond butter. Throw in some pumpkin spice and maple syrup and your morning meal will be transformed into a healthy liquid version of the traditional pumpkin pie.

Baked pumpkin: You can make a tasty meal out of pumpkin by simply baking it with cinnamon and adding a little bit of butter. Pumpkin works as the main course but is also perfect as a side dish.

Pumpkin seed oil: One easy way to enjoy the health benefits that pumpkin has to offer is by incorporating pumpkin seed oil into your cooking. It adds a nutty seasonal taste to whatever dish you are preparing and is perfect for keeping you in that seasonal holiday mood.

Final Thoughts

Being dedicated to your physical and dental health doesn’t mean swearing off the Pumpkin Spice Latte for good. It just means taming your daily addiction and satisfying your pumpkin craving with snacks and dishes that are low in sugar and high in vitamin-rich goodness.

Happy Holidays from Who Does Your Teeth?

About Dr. Neal

Born in Portland, Maine, Dr. Jeffrey A. Neal moved at the age of one and was raised in Nokesville, Va. He excelled during his high school years and graduated valedictorian of his class. He went on to get his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from College of William and Mary in 1993. However, his passion for learning did not stop there, and he went on to study dentistry at the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry. During his time there, he was able to go to Israel to study and teach dentistry there. He regards this as one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of his life.

Dr. Neal graduated in 1997, and he also received the Society of Dentistry for Children Award. While studying in MCV, he fell in love with the life and color of Richmond, VA, and decided to open his practice near there in Henrico, Virginia. At present, Dr. Neal offers a wide range of dental services, including orthodontics, treatments for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and now sleep medicine. Devoted to continued learning, Dr. Neal strives to be the best he can be with all the current technology. Most years, Dr. Neal completes over 200 hours of continuing education courses for the superior treatment of his patients.

For more information, visit www.whodoesyourteeth.comCall (804) 447-1435 to learn more!

Who Does Your Teeth?
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Henrico, VA 23233