Article at a Glance
- Pumpkin spice is a combination of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.
- Pumpkin spice lattes can have a serious impact on your teeth from the acidity of the coffee and the extreme amount of sugar.
- There are plenty of alternative ways to get your pumpkin spice fix without compromising your health.
Whether you love it or hate it, pumpkin spice season is officially in full swing. From lattes to muffins, pumpkin spice lovers can indulge in spicy goodness. If you’re among those fans, you might want to know what your guilty pleasure is doing to your teeth.
What is Pumpkin Spice?
Pumpkin spice generally refers to a combination of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Together, these spices have plenty of health benefits, but when combined with other ingredients to make tasty treats, they can lose a lot of nutritional value. Interestingly, a lot of the available pumpkin spice products available today contain very little pumpkin (if any) at all.
Where Did the Pumpkin Spice Craze Come From?
Would it surprise you to know that pumpkin spice has been in style for more than 3,500 years? Archeological finds in Indonesia have discovered pottery shards bearing signs of nutmeg, a key ingredient in pumpkin spice everything. Of course, the modern pumpkin spice obsession is more popularly traced to the introduction of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes.
Thanks to a massive social media movement, the pumpkin spice latte (or PSL to diehard fans), has been savored more than 200 million times since its introduction 13 years ago. How many other pop culture drinks can say they’ve got their own verified Twitter account (@TheRealPSL)?
The food and drink industries have jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon by expanding their offerings each fall. Pumpkin spice fans can enjoy almost anything these days, from teas and coffees to breads and pastries, and everything in between. Creamers, hummus, and even pastas have emerged to satisfy the pumpkin spice craving felt by so many throughout the fall.
Some naysayers have opened discussion on the downside of pumpkin spice, including exposing the ugly truth about nutritional facts behind the trend. While it’s true that the actual spices blended to create pumpkin spice are relatively low in everything (a mere 19 calories per tablespoon), most foods and drinks bearing the name are less innocent. The nutritional content of most pumpkin spice products is shocking and may have a bigger effect on you than you think.
Read more: Not all Water is Created Equal
How Pumpkin Spice Affects Teeth
Are you wondering how that mouth watering combination is affecting your teeth? It depends on how you take your pumpkin spice. It can make your house smell amazing in the form of a candle, or it can wreak havoc on your body, including your teeth. Before overindulging in pumpkin spice lattes this season, take a look at how they can affect you. It’s scary to think about it, but pumpkin spice lattes may be worse for you than digging into the bowl of trick-or-treat sweets!
Coffee is a key ingredient in pumpkin spice lattes, so if you have too many you can end up with jitters from the caffeine. Since coffee is acidic, it can erode the enamel on your teeth. Don’t forget about how coffee can discolor your teeth, too.
The scary truth about pumpkin spice latte nutrition involves more than the coffee. Pumpkin spice lattes tend to have more than 35 grams of sugar. That’s more than the recommended daily intake according to the American Heart Association and imagine all that sugar left on your teeth! Be honest, are you brushing every time you finish a latte?
Pumpkin Spice in Moderation
Pumpkin spice lattes aren’t the only way to satisfy your pumpkin craving. You don’t have to cut it out of your life altogether, but maybe consider other ways to indulge. There are plenty of ways to cut the sugar out so you can still enjoy the spicy goodness.
- Pumpkin seeds are nutritious, flavorful, and loaded with tooth-friendly vitamins.
- Try a pumpkin pie smoothie that makes use of the spices without all the extras.
- Baked pumpkin sprinkled with spices will make your house smell incredible and help curb your pumpkin spice craving.
- Substitute a pumpkin spice chai for your latte. Combine one cup of milk, one chai tea bag, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup in a pan. Stir while heating on the stove but be careful not to bring it to a boil.
If you really can’t skip that pumpkin spice latte, don’t let it get you down. Enjoy one for a special occasion and be prepared to give your teeth a little extra TLC afterward.
This time of year is the best time to visit your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning, so you’re ready for the holiday season ahead. If it’s been awhile since your last check-up, the team at Jefferson Dental Care can help. Call the office nearest you to make an appointment.
Our Jefferson Dental Content Committee supports our team by educational and informational articles related to what we do, oral care tips, and current events in our communities.