You probably already know that excessive sugar isn’t good for your overall body wellness or your oral health! Your dietary sugar is eaten by bacteria, which accumulate into a sticky film of plaque and create acidic byproducts that lead to enamel erosion and tooth decay. If left untreated, decay causes permanent damage called cavities. We understand that it is difficult to avoid sugar, especially if you have a powerful sweet tooth. Read on for tips to protect your teeth from too much sugar!
- Incorporate Sugar Substitutes
- Establish Healthier Dietary Habits
There is a special group of sugar-free sweeteners called polyols that contain antibacterial properties. Polyols are chemically processed sugar alcohols, typically found in sugar-free gum and sugar-free candy. Examples include xylitol, sorbitol, malitol, and isomalt. Studies have shown that chewing on sugar-free gum with polyols for at least 20 minutes after eating can help to prevent cavities. Additionally, Monk fruit extract and Stevia are plant-derived sugar substitutes that come in powder form and can be easily added to recipes or to sweeten beverages.
It’s important to remember that sugar is not only found in candy and desserts but also things like white bread, potato chips, and other refined starches, as well as added sugar in cereals, yogurt, juice, soda, and sports drinks. Here are a few ways that you can reduce your sugar intake:
- Use one of the aforementioned sugar substitutes to sweeten your morning oatmeal, coffee, or tea. Or, at least use agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup; these sweet syrups have a lower glycemic index than traditional cane sugar. However, these are still sticky on teeth and able to be consumed by your oral bacteria, so use in moderation and drink plenty of water during and after.
- Before consuming anything pre-packaged, check out the nutrition label. Whenever possible, skip it if “sugar” is the first ingredient!
- Cut down on sodas and sugary beverages. If you crave carbonation, try switching to flavored sparkling water without any citrus or sugar.
- Swap out refined starches with whole grains whenever possible.
- Rather than choosing pre-sweetened varieties with loads of sugar, add fruit to plain cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt.
- Only chew gum and mints that are sugar-free.
You don’t have to entirely give up on sweets to stay healthy! But a few simple changes to your diet can make all the difference in your overall health and dental health. In addition to establishing a healthier relationship with sugar, don’t forget to daily brush and floss your teeth and to come visit us every six months for a cleaning. We’d love to provide additional guidance on how to achieve and maintain healthy teeth. Contact our team today to schedule an appointment at our dental office in Lake Oswego or the Portland Pearl District!