Most Americans eat and drink a startling amount of sugar per day.
It’s not just the kind you choose, like the sweet stuff you ladle into your coffee or find packed into that guilty-pleasure soda or dessert. Manufacturers have decided we’re a nation with a collective sweet tooth. They aim for mass appeal by sneaking loads of sugar into products ranging from soy sauce to salad dressing. The average person in the United States consumes 15 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
While cutting down on sugar takes discipline, it’s a worthwhile goal because of the enormous benefit to your teeth. Sugar is one of the main contributors to tooth decay, which sends countless people to the dentist for treatment.
We love seeing patients at Riverside Dental but we believe in focusing on the preventative care that starts at home. Let’s talk more about why better teeth starts with less sugar. We promise to keep it short and sweet.
It’s not sugar itself that causes tooth decay but instead a chemical chain-reaction that takes place after you eat and drink items high in sugar.
Our mouths are full of bacteria, both helpful and harmful. The harmful kind includes the bacteria that forms on our teeth as a sticky white film called plaque. The bacteria in plaque feeds on sugar, releasing acid that attacks your tooth enamel as a byproduct.
These acids can erode your enamel until they bore a hole into your tooth creating a bacterial infection known as a cavity. Without treatment, a cavity can permeate into the deepest layer of your teeth. The resulting decay is painful and can even cause you to lose a tooth.
Sugar By Any Name Tastes As Sweet
Are you ready to take control of your dental health by cutting down on sugar? You don’t need to worry too much about sugars that are naturally present in whole foods. This includes fruit, veggies and—get ready to applaud, cheese-lovers—dairy products. It’s added sugar that’s the problem.
Cutting back on this oral offender starts with reading labels on processed foods. Sugar goes by many names, so see if the label you’re scanning contains other terms for sugar like:
- High-fructose corn syrup
In general, it’s best to aim for a diet rich in unprocessed foods like fruits, grains, vegetables and nuts. Choosing home-cooked meals over frozen, canned or fast food fare also lets you better control your sugar intake.
Carbohydrates Become Sugar
Carbohydrates also break down into sugar. When you chew bread, for instance, your saliva breaks it down into sugar. That same crusty bread has meanwhile been transformed into a gummy substance that sticks to your teeth. If you leave it in your mouth, you’ve got a recipe for tooth decay. Whole-wheat bread is a better alternative because it takes longer to break down and also tends to contain less added sugar.
You should also cut back on crunchy non-flour starches like potato chips, which likewise adhere to the crevices of your teeth while quickly turning into sugar.
Post-Sugar Plan Of Attack
You can mitigate the enamel-eroding effects of sugar by brushing your teeth within 20 minutes of eating or drinking sweet things or carbs. This will rid your teeth of leftover food and plaque, allowing you to rid your mouth of both harmful bacteria and the sugar on which it feeds. Carrying floss with you is another great way to clean up your act.
Yes, when it comes to tooth care, everything your mother told you is right. To keep your pearly whites in good condition, avoid too much sugar and practice thorough dental hygiene. You should also visit a full-service dentist regularly. They can detect if you’ve developed any cavities and deep-clean your mouth of any lingering plaque or tartar.
Contact us today to make an appointment at Riverside Dental Care. We look forward to seeing your smile!