Bad news for latte lovers (like me!): popular coffee drinks with milk are causing adult tooth decay.
"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," says dentist Heidi Hackett. "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."
According to Hackett, the type of bacteria most responsible for tooth decay is Streptococcus mutans, which metabolizes carbohydrates and sugars into acid. The acid then eats away at the tooth enamel until a cavity is born.
Drinking your latte in 15 minutes is fine, says Hackett. But nursing it all day long like an adult baby bottle is where you get into trouble.
Lattes should be considered snacks because of their high milk sugar content, Hackett says. And sippers should take appropriate steps to protect their teeth.
"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 advises.
Fluoride rinse, she says, is another great way to keep your teeth healthy, especially if you drink a lot of beverages with milk, sugar, honey or if you constantly snack throughout the day.