We are often being told that sugar rots our teeth, but how does this happen? It is not the sugar itself that does the damage, but the chain of events that occur when sugar meets our mouth. Decay happens when the sugar in food and drinks feeds the bad bacteria in our mouth and it forms an acid. The acid then attacks the surface of our teeth which softens and dissolves the enamel, causing cavities to form.
Dental problems triggered by sugar are still the most widespread cause of poor oral health and disease. By drastically reducing the amount of sugar that we ingest we are not only protecting our teeth, but we can also improve our waistline.
Here are 5 tips from White Dental Rooms to cut down your sugar intake:
- Avoid Sneaky Sugars
When we picture sugar, we tend to think of the white granules that we use for baking or putting in tea. Unfortunately, there are quite a few hidden sugars that turn up in processed products which are worth looking out for (and avoiding). Some hidden names for sugar are sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, and corn syrup.
- Serial Cereal Offenders
Many breakfast cereals (especially those aimed at children) contain a very high level of sugar, even up to a staggering third of the contents. Most of us will eat a much bigger portion than the 30g or 40g outlined on the box, so it is not a good way to start the day. Switching to a cereal with no added sugar, or one low in sugar such as porridge, will have a significant impact on our dental and overall health.
- Sugar Snack Attack
At 10.30am when you are feeling hungry and it is too long to wait until lunch, what do you grab to eat? A biscuit, chocolate bar, or left-over birthday cake from the staff kitchen? Or what about that mid-morning coffee run for a grande caramel mocha latte with extra cream and chocolate drizzle? This is disastrous for your diet, and certainly not good for your teeth. Instead, have a handful of mixed nuts as this will give you the energy boost you need. Just avoid the type that contains dried fruit as they not only contain sugar, but the sticky texture of the sultanas will only attach the sugar directly to your teeth.
- Smoothie Operator
Smoothies are a great way to get more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet, however, fruit is very high in sugar. When the fruit is blended not only does the sugar come out, but having it in liquid form allows it to coat your teeth more easily. Try to avoid this pureed form, or use a straw to direct the sugar away from your teeth. Make sure you brush your teeth thoroughly and floss to get out any seeds that may wedge themselves between your teeth.
- Night Owl Nibbles
An early night is better for your overall health, and you can’t snack while you are asleep, so those sugary midnight munchies will not be attacking your teeth. Staying up late can also mean that you become lazy about your night-time routine, and may want to collapse into bed rather than take the time to brush your teeth properly, or at all, before going to sleep.
It is very hard to avoid sugar, not only is it in many foods and drinks but we also really like the taste of it! However, by being conscious of our sugar intake and cutting it out where possible, we can greatly improve our health, and avoid unnecessary tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum for up to twenty minutes after a meal can help your mouth produce more saliva, which helps to cancel out any harmful acids that may have formed.