Is your coffee habit killing your teeth?

We all enjoy treating ourselves to a coffee, but many of the luxury drinks sold in coffee shops contain alarming amounts of sugar, which can cause tooth decay and other diseases

How often do you enjoy a coffee out? Perhaps on your way to work, or while catching up with friends?

Going to a coffee shop was once a treat, but as the number of cafes on our high street has increased, we are visiting them much more frequently. And along with the growing popularity of cafes has come the rise of the ‘luxury’ drink.

More sugar than a can of cola

Most coffee shops and fast-food chains now feature luxury drinks flavoured with syrups and sugar. However, a recent survey by Action on Sugar found that 98% of the 131 flavoured drinks it analysed would receive a ‘red label’ for excessive sugar levels. Just as shocking, 35% contained more sugar than a typical can of cola.

Hidden sugars

One in five of us admits to visiting a coffee shop daily, which includes teenagers. Some people assume that a coffee is a healthier alternative to a sugary snack, but it can be just as bad if it is laden with ‘hidden’ sugars.

The recommended daily amount of ‘free’ or ‘added’ (not naturally occurring) sugar for an adult is 7 teaspoons, but a large chai latte from a high street coffee shop contains an average of 20 teaspoons. Over time, excessive sugar consumption can cause tooth decay, diabetes and obesity.

What can I do?

  1. Opt for a good old-fashioned tea or coffee without flavours, syrups or sugar.
  2. Limit yourself to a luxury drink once a month or as a rare special treat (that doesn’t mean finishing that pile of laundry!), and order a small over a large.
  3. Try one of nature’s many sugar-free drinks as an alternative – such as coconut water, milk or water. Since the pigments in teas and coffees can stain teeth, it’s good to reduce your intake anyway.
  4. Talk to your children if they often grab a speciality drink with friends, and help them to identify healthier alternatives.
  5. When you do treat yourself, chew sugar-free gum or have a glass of water afterwards to help neutralise the sugars in your mouth.

Some coffee shops are aiming to reduce the amount of sugar in their drinks. But so long as you treat your ‘luxury’ drink as just that and only indulge on rare occasions, you can help prevent your chances of developing tooth decay.

Remember, you can contact us at Number 18 if you have any dental concerns.


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