Best and Worst Pumpkin Spice Treats (for Your Teeth)

Oct 06, 2015, by Dr. Becky Coats

Pumpkin Spice Things

Now that it’s officially fall, pumpkin spice flavors have begun to invade everything in the store, and all your favorite foods have seasonal versions, some better than others. Pumpkin spice isn’t inherently bad for you or your teeth. In fact, several ingredients have proven health benefits for your and your teeth. Cinnamon in particular is not only a headache remedy, it has antibacterial properties that can help protect your teeth from oral bacteria.

But when pumpkin spice gets in the hands of commercial producers, the result can be really bad for your teeth (not to mention nasty tasting). So here’s a guide to the season’s treats and which ones are best and worst for your teeth.

Very bad!: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

Let’s get this one out of the way quickly. We know you were hoping that this would somehow get a passing mark (after all, coffee’s good for your teeth, right?), but if you’re honest with yourself you knew it had to be bad for you. While coffee can be good for your teeth, the 12 teaspoons of sugar in a Grande (50 grams, AKA twice your recommended daily consumption!!!) are certainly not good. Add that to enough fat to help it cling to your teeth and you’ve got trouble, my friends, with a capital T that rhymes with P and that stands for Pumpkin Spice Latte. You can have one or two of these to get the flavor of the season, but for the sake of your teeth (and your hips!) don’t make it a daily habit.

Worst!: Caramels

Caramels are a popular pumpkin spice delivery system, but they’re terrible for your teeth. Not only do they contain sugar, they’ve got the worst kind, the kind that clings to your teeth to keep feeding oral bacteria for hours. The sad part is that one of the most delicious, the Williams-Sonoma Pumpkin Pie Caramels, are probably the worst for your teeth because they’re the harder, chewier kind. If you really want to get your pumpkin spice caramel, go for a Ghirardelli Pumpkin Spice Caramel chocolate square. The caramel is softer so it doesn’t cling quite as much, and it’s encased in chocolate, which balances it out somewhat.

Not worth it!: Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn

Brach’s traditional candy corns are already a staple of the season, so we wonder why they felt compelled to make a pumpkin spice version, especially one as bad as this. The kind of waxy texture of candy corns combines with the overly artificial flavors to make it like eating pieces of candles. These aren’t as clingy as caramels, but the payoff is way less, so probably best to avoid these treats.

Depends on how you eat it: Clif Bar Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Clif Bars aren’t necessarily that bad for your teeth, but it’s the context in which they’re consumed. Energy foods like this are eaten (sometimes literally) on the run. Combined with dehydration and the fact that you’re not going to brush your teeth any time soon, and they can lead to more tooth decay than might be expected just based on the nutrient profile (which is none too great, neither–6 teaspoons of sugar in one bar!).

Not as bad as some things: Cookies

There are literally dozens of options for pumpkin spice cookies. These aren’t as bad for your teeth as the candies as they’ll usually wash off your teeth easily, especially if you pair them with black coffee or tea–which also makes a nice bitter to offset the sweet. But if you’re going to have one of these, pick a good one, like Sprouts Pumpkin Cheesecake Sandwich Creme Cookies. (Incidentally, there’s a Sprouts just up the road off from Southlake where one could, theoretically, pick up a pack on their way into the office . . .)

Some bad, some good: Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds

Admittedly, these are covered in a candy shell, but underneath they’re almonds, one of nature’s most nutritious foods. They contain calcium and lots of other minerals that contribute to bone and tooth health. Plus the crunchy texture can have a scrubbing effect to help remove the residue of sugar, leaving only proteins behind, which are harder for oral bacteria to digest.

Probably more good than bad: Actual Pumpkin Pie

There’s something to be said for the classics. If you’re looking for pumpkin spice, why not bake a pie? While it’s true there’s a lot of sugar here (but only half as much as in a Pumpkin Spice Latte), there’s also a lot of good stuff, like calcium, two different types of vitamin B, and a huge dose of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant.

Powerful bacteria fighter:Pumpkin Spice Chobani

Although this yogurt often gets rated only so-so for its taste, yogurt is one of the best foods for your mouth. It can help fight oral bacteria and provides many nutrients your teeth depend on. Add this to your daily routine and you’re likely to see a reduction in gum disease, and it can even help protect your dental implants.

Beer! Also, nutritious and antibacterial: Pumpkinhead Beer

Beer is good for your teeth, but there are way too many pumpkin beers out there, and many of them are nasty. Pumpkinhead is a pretty decent one, not too pumpkin-y, not too spicy, and not too bitter. Not only does beer contain a lot of nutrients, it’s not as acidic as wine or soda, and the hops are antibacterial–they can help kill the bacteria that attack your teeth and gums. Ironically, too, beers that are low in hop flavor like this one actually have more of the antibacterial hop compounds–that’s a whole other story!

Delicious Cheating Treat: David’s Tea Pumpkin Chai

If you’re looking for a hot beverage alternative to a Pumpkin Spice Latte, here’s your poison. Except it’s not poison at all. Combine the oral health benefits of black tea with those of cinnamon, and you’ve got yourself a real winner. And here’s its delicious secret: the tea contains caramel and pumpkin candies, which help contribute to a sweet taste, but don’t contribute any appreciable sugars to a brewed cup. It’s kind of cheating, and we love it!

Controlling what you eat is an essential part of maintaining good oral health. Another essential part is finding the best dentist for you. If you’re looking for a Grapevine dentist to help maintain the health and beauty of your smile, please call (817) 481-6888 for an appointment at Grapevine Dental Care today.