Pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin pudding are just a few of the seasonal dishes and drinks that people look forward to all year. There’s no denying that they’re delicious, but do they damage your teeth? And, if so, how can you still have these autumn-inspired treats without increasing your risk of cavities? After all, the goal is to enjoy this time of year while it’s here – but minimize the amount of dental work you need from a dentist in Clarksville. In this blog, you’ll learn about the history of pumpkin and find out how you can still enjoy it while keeping your smile healthy at the same time!
How Did Pumpkin Become So Popular?
Americans have been making pumpkin dishes during the autumn months since around the 1670’s, which is nearly 350 years of tradition. For most of American history, the most popular dish has been pumpkin pie, although recent years have seen recipes for pumpkin puddings, cookies and many other treats.
Of course, no discussion of pumpkin popularity would be complete without a mention of the cult-favorite PSL (pumpkin spice latte). It became available for the first time in 2003 and is one beverage that people look forward to all year!
Is Pumpkin Healthy For You and Your Teeth?
Pumpkin itself is quite healthy because it contains fiber, important vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants. On its own, it’s a great addition to your diet and isn’t harmful to your teeth – with one big catch.
Most pumpkin dishes and drinks are loaded with sugar, which IS harmful to your teeth. In particular, a pumpkin spice latte every day can significantly increase your risk of cavities because most people sip on them throughout the day.
There’s a saying in dentistry, “Sip all day, get decay,” which means that it’s not only the total amount of sugar you consume, but the frequency of exposures that matters.
How Can Enjoy Pumpkin Dishes and Also Keep Your Smile Healthy?
Although the sugar in pumpkin flavored treats can cause cavities, that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy them! In addition to getting regular preventive care and checkups, here are a few other tips for preventing tooth decay:
- Reduce the sugar – Ask for just one pump of syrup in your lattes (instead of the four pumps that usually come with them).
- Don’t sip for too long – Try to finish your latte in a 20-30 minute window, instead of sipping on it for an hour or more.
- Rinse with water – If you aren’t able to brush your teeth right away, at least swish several times with water to rinse away the sugars.
- Chew sugar-free gum – In addition to rinsing, chew sugar-free gum to stimulate salivary flow and neutralize the sugars and acids that cause cavities.
Pumpkin dishes are delicious and only come around once a year. With these tips and tricks, you’ll still be able to enjoy them – without the guilt (or risk to your teeth)!
About the Author
Dr. Lauren Nichols is a dentist in Clarksville who loves autumn and all the pumpkin flavored foods and beverages that come with it. She knows that what her patients eat and drink has a huge impact on their smile, so she always takes the time to answer questions about making good choices. If you have any additional questions about how your diet affects your oral health, she can be reached via her website or at (479) 754-3357.