Discussions of sugar and dental health usually come with cautionary tales and warranted warnings. After all, it has been proven that sugar is what leads to the bacteria that cause tooth decay. We also happen to know that untreated tooth decay affects more than 2.4-billion people worldwide, and an added 743-million individuals have been reported as having periodontal disease.
Despite our growing knowledge of the effects of sugar on teeth and the recommendation by the World Health Organization to consume no more than 10-percent of daily calories on sugar, the sweet substance still rules many of our lives and just as much havoc on our health (including dental health). Does this mean it’s time for a sugar strike? Don’t overhaul your pantry just yet, but do become more educated about the dangers of sugar and dental health and how to strive for a more balanced sweet spot.
How to Find Your Sweet Spot When it Comes to Sugar and Dental Health
Sugar is everywhere and in almost everything. While evidence of sugar in some foods is more obvious—cakes, cookies, candy—there are others much less conspicuous, including the following common favorites:
- Protein bars
- Certain brands/types of pre-packaged soups
- Baked beans
- BBQ Sauce
Even bread and pizza dough typically contain higher levels of sugar than you might expect. Before you bundle all sugar items for the trash, however, take a look at some strategies to help you find balance without complete sacrifice:
- Swap the Real Deal for Sugar Substitutes
Sugar substitutes have become a popular replacement for the real thing and unlike the real deal, products such as Sweet n’ Low, Stevia, and Splenda do not cause tooth decay. They’re also often low and calories and can be helpful in aiding obesity and diabetes.
- Check Food Labels When Shopping
As previously discussed, there can be a lot more sugar snuck into food than what we’d expect. Being more vigilant about how much sugar you’re bringing home in common offenders such as many processed and frozen foods can help reduce the amount of extra sugar consumed in a day, week, and month.
- Reserve Sugar for Special Occasions
Rather than considering sugar as a daily indulgence, shift your mindset to view the occasional cookie, Mocha, and slice of cake as just that—an occasional treat—that way you’ll most likely enjoy it more, feel less guilty, and keep bacteria at bay so it doesn’t lead to cavities (or worse).
- Become More Mindful About Snacking
Similar to changing your perception toward sugary treats, adopting a similar approach toward snacking can help protect your teeth from harm. Health experts suggest that eating smaller meals throughout the day as being good for the metabolism, but they aren’t referring to chips, cookies, and the like. Eating a mix of veggies and protein is not only far better for your overall health, it’s less likely to invite bacteria to rest in your mouth to produce the harmful acids that lead to tooth decay.
- Up Your Water Intake
If you’re a dedicated soda drinker it may be a difficult adjustment at first, but switching to water, or at least reducing soda and implementing more water will not only help you feel more hydrated and healthy, it will also help you to feel more full (for the times when you may not actually be hungry) and will help wash away those harmful bacteria-causing acids. Tap water too often contains fluoride to further protect teeth. If you don’t like the taste, simply hide it with a splash of fresh lemon or lime.
Better Balance, Fewer Cavities—Now That’s Something to Smile About!
Backing off of sugar and implementing at least one of the tips above, will significantly help you to reduce your daily sugar intake. Practicing a few together—even better! For many, trying to eliminate sugar completely simply isn’t realistic, and attempting to do so may lead to binging or overcompensating at some point. So, allow yourself a minimal dose of sugar, keep to best oral hygiene practices, and sugar won’t get the best of you!
If you have any questions regarding sugar and dental health or would like to come visit us at Hospital Dental Group, click here to get started or give us a call anytime, 860-524-5194.