How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?
Easter is almost here, but have you thought about all the ramifications of those Peeps and jelly beans you’re craving? The Easter Bunny has a way of just dropping off those sugary baskets and hopping away. But it isn’t just your waistline that might be paying for all that yummy candy and chocolate you will consume. Your teeth might suffer too.
While the amount, type and form of the sugars can also depend on the severity of the impact, generally speaking all sugars cause the same effect. According to WebMD, bacteria feeds on the sugars in the food you eat and they create acids. The level of acidity in your mouth helps control the bacterial environment and if it’s too high or too low, this creates problems for your oral health. Over a period of time, the acids they create destroy tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay.
The Deeper Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth
All sugars you ingest can have a major impact on your overall oral health, but there is a difference between if you drink your sugar or eat it. According to an article on NaturalGumption: Sound Oral Health Advice, “Sugars that come in liquid forms, such as sodas or juices, wash over your entire mouth and get into every nook and cranny of your teeth. This is harmful because, even with regular brushing, those sugars can sit in hard to reach places and allow bacteria to grow. Sugars that you chew are harmful because they can leave a larger than normal amount of residue on the teeth. This residue will not wash away with saliva; again, it creates a more than normal amount of substrate for bacteria.”
Severe erosion, the destroying of your tooth’s enamel, can also lead to changes in your bite, or the way your upper and lower teeth come together. Your back teeth can be reduced in size and some teeth my eventually be lost entirely. If dental problems persist, you may have to extract unhealthy teeth, replace dental work, undergo gum surgery, or even consider dental implants.
The truth is, you can easily prevent erosion and in turn tooth decay, by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, rinsing with mouthwash, seeing your dentist regularly for teeth cleaning and checkups, and of course, avoiding foods that are high in sugar.
In the meantime, here are some other simple steps you can take to help reduce your sugar consumption now that the bunny is on its way:
- Eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups, including lean sources of protein (lean beef, skinless poultry, fish, dry beans, peas, other legumes), fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-far or fat-free dairy products.
- Drink half your weight in ounces of water daily, or more for excessive heat and exercise. (If 200lbs, aim for 100 ounces or about 6 16-oz. bottles.) If you need a reminder how crucial water is to your health, read You Need To Drink More Water.
- Avoid soft drinks. Replace with water, flavored water or green tea.
- Avoid candy, cookies, and pastries. Or at least limit them to small amounts once or twice a week.
- Limit snacks. Many nutritionists recommend five or six smaller meals per day for optimal energy and health. But, more saliva is produced during meals, which helps wash foods from your mouth, lessening harmful acid build-up. Choose healthy snacks like raw vegetables and fruits, cheese, peanut butter, or nuts.
- Beware of “low-sugar” or “sugar-free” labels. Many low-sugar or sugar-free products use artificial sweeteners instead. Controversy looms about potential health risks associated with use of artificial sweeteners. Dr. Oz’s article Artificial Sweeteners and Other Food Substitutes: Dangerous to Your Health? elaborates.
- If you need help altering your diet, consult your doctor or sign up for Supertracker where you can personalize a diet and exercise plan, track them and get support from others.6
A Permanent Remedy for Decay
If you have already suffered tooth decay or tooth loss, dental implants may be the answer. Partial or missing teeth can be damaging your oral health and your self-image. Thankfully, learning about your options is easy with Schneider Family Dental – call and ask about our free consultations today.