Everyone knows that sugar is bad for your teeth, but what exactly about sugar makes it so harmful? Cakes, candies, and other sweets are often to blame for cavities. The mouth contains microscopic sugar-loving organisms that turn sugars into acids which break down tooth enamel and contribute to decay. Too much sugar can also have other adverse effects on your oral health, such as an increased risk of gum disease and conditions like heart disease and dementia.
To maintain a healthy, beautiful smile, limit the amount of sugar you consume each day. Here is a closer look at how sugar affects your teeth and some healthier alternatives.
The Effect of Sugar on Your Smile
Within just 20 seconds of consuming sugar, the bacteria in the mouth begin to form acids that damage your teeth. Sugar can be found in a wide range of foods and drinks, including those that may not necessarily taste sweet. While small amounts of glucose are usually harmless, too much sugar can lead to health complications.
Excessive sugar intake triggers a spike in your glucose levels, and as you come down from your sugar high, you can start to feel lethargic. Mood swings are also a common sign of unhealthy eating. Of course, sugar doesn’t just affect your mental state but also your physical state. Frequently consuming sugary foods or beverages can lead to cavities, gum infections, and oral irritation.
Tooth decay is one of the biggest concerns when consuming too much sugar. Each time you eat a meal, the bacteria in your mouth combine with the sugar molecules to form a sticky substance known as plaque. Although brushing and flossing can help rid the teeth of plaque, poor oral hygiene habits can cause plaque to turn to tartar. Over time, tooth enamel can dissolve, leading to cavities in your teeth.
It can sometimes be tough to spot sugar in ingredient lists as it can go by many names. Some of the most common ‘hidden’ sugars found on food labels include high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, 100 percent fruit juice, or ingredients with the “-ose” suffix, such as sucrose and lactose.
Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Foods
While the occasional slice of cake or candy bar is okay, consider keeping your sugar intake to a minimum. Instead, choose healthy, low-sugar options, such as popcorn, pretzels, string cheese, hard-boiled eggs, sweet potato chips, zucchini chips, or celery with cream cheese.
To satisfy your sweet tooth, consume fresh fruits like strawberries, bananas, peaches, or melons. Plain Greek yogurt with no added sugars or flavors can be a sweet treat when topped with fruit slices, granola, fruit, and a drizzle of honey. You can even make your own ice cream treat by freezing a banana and pulsing it in a food processor with a scoop of peanut butter until smooth.
Beverages like fruit juice and soda pop often contain large amounts of sugar. Consider making the switch to healthier alternatives, such as lemon water, fruit-infused water, or just plain water. Additionally, green tea can be a refreshing beverage and has been shown to lower cholesterol and improve blood flow.
How to Protect Your Teeth from Sugar
In addition to choosing healthy alternatives to sugary foods, it is important to maintain a good oral health routine. This includes brushing at least twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and rinsing with a mouthwash.
Avoid brushing directly after consuming sugar as this can cause the enamel to soften. Ideally, you should wait about an hour before brushing. In the meantime, flush your mouth with water to rinse away any leftover sugars.
Both children and adults should visit their dentist in Clermont about every six months for a professional cleaning and exam. During this visit, your dentist will remove plaque and tartar, and look for signs of tooth decay or other oral health problems.
Visit Our Clermont Dental Office Today
Our dentist in Clermont, FL is now accepting new patients. Contact Hancock Village Dental today to learn more about how sugar affects your teeth or to schedule a visit with our friendly and experienced dentist.