It may be just a Seattle thing or it might not but it seems like sipping your latte over an extended period of time may be the reason you have more cavities than before.
Seattle based dentist Heidi Hackett says “We found that the majority of the patients are spending many hours a day working at the computer and ‘nursing’ either lattes or coffee with milk. The constant exposure to the lactose or milk sugar is giving the bacteria in the mouth a flood of raw fuel or ‘food’ to metabolize.”
Streptococcus mutans is the bacteria responsible for tooth decay, says Hackett, and it works by metabolizing carbs and sugars into acid. It’s the acid that eats away at your tooth enamel resulting in that black void aka cavity.
But why are lattes being singled out? Well those of us who spend most of the day working behind a computer know what happens – you get a drink and you start sipping, then something comes up and you forget it. Fast forward 1 hour later and suddenly you remember the drink. You don’t want to waste it so you heat it up in the microwave. Then you forget it again and the cycle repeats. It’s that time period in between that Hackett says allows the bacteria to multiply and the acid begins attacking your teeth.
She does have a suggestion as to how to combat this problem. She says “If you’re going to drink a latte or coffee with milk, you can drink water after to help neutralize the acid, or chew sugar-free gum to stimulate salivary flow to help rinse the acids and neutralize.” She also recommends the use of fluoride rinse especially if you have a habit of snacking during the day…a charge to which I plead guilty! 😉
With this kind of valuable advice let’s take heed and make sure that this problem stays only in Seattle!