Sugar factors into the equation for most of your favorite desserts and other foods you enjoy. Yogurt, barbecue sauce, granola – sugar is everywhere you turn.
Everyone knows that sugar is no picnic for your teeth. But how harmful is it to consume sugary foods and beverages?
Keep reading to learn how sugar impacts oral health.
What Happens to My Teeth When I Eat Sugar?
Sugar intake can definitely set the stage for cavity development, but how does this happen? Well, it’s not actually the sugar that does the damage to your teeth. When you consume an item containing sugar, the bacteria on your teeth release acids after they break it down.
The acids dissolve your tooth enamel, raising your risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing and flossing daily is how you safeguard your mouth from this process.
How Does Sugar Affect the Rest of My Body?
Simple sugars cause blood glucose levels to spike sharply and fall, which can make you feel tired and unwell or experience emotional mood swings. Plus, as your blood sugar level changes substantially, it can make you crave more sugar.
Sugar intake also elevates the risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Sugar can interfere with a healthy immune function, create a chromium deficiency, accelerate aging, and increase stress levels.
Should I Quit Consuming Sugar Entirely?
Processed or refined sugar, which is an ingredient of candy, potato chips, and soda, just to name a few, should be avoided as much as possible. While they are not as hard on your teeth, dried fruit, honey, and citrus fruits can still be harmful if not eaten in moderation.
Try to work more foods high in fiber and protein into your diet like nuts, cheese, and leafy greens to strengthen your teeth. Fresh fruit, carrots, and celery naturally remove some plaque and bacteria from the surface of your teeth when you eat them.
Drinking plenty of water during and after meals is very beneficial to promote saliva production and wash away bacteria and food particles. Brushing your teeth after consuming sugar is also recommended.
Is Any Type of Sugar Safe for My Teeth?
If you are a sugar-free gum consumer, you may have heard of xylitol. It’s a sugar alcohol that tastes like sugar but doesn’t contain any of the acid-promoting qualities.
Commonly found in sugar-free gum, sugar-free mints, and toothpaste, xylitol can help prevent cavity-causing bacteria! Xylitol is best served in moderation just like anything else you consume, but it at least offers one sweetener that won’t harm your teeth.
Moderate sugar intake occasionally is not the end of the world for your teeth, at least if you try to drink water along with it and brush your teeth afterward. But sugar does adversely affect your oral health and body in many ways, so seeking healthier food and beverage items is always recommended. A dental cleaning and exam twice each year is a great idea to help ensure that sugar doesn’t do too much damage to your enamel.
About the Author
Dr. Rob McVety earned his doctorate from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine. He is a Spear Faculty Club member and regularly travels to Arizona for advanced training on a variety of subjects. Dr. McVety understands how tempting sugar can be, as he has a particular affinity for gelato. He knows it is best to only partake in sweet treats every now and then to protect your teeth and the rest of your body. To schedule a dental cleaning and exam to ensure your teeth are doing well, visit his website or call (207) 517-7008.