Sugar is your brain and body’s main source of energy – but not all sugars are created equal. Glucose from all carbohydrates besides fiber break down into the energy you need to function and thrive. But added sugars, prevalent in everything from candy and sodas to many cereals and sauces, can provide far more sugar than you need. And that excess can impact your teeth.
By improving your sugar intake and embracing positive hygiene habits, you can have your sweets and enjoy the benefits of healthy teeth too.
Our team at Silver Lake Dentistry in Raymore, Missouri, diagnoses and treats a range of dental issues that may link to your sugar intake. We can also guide you toward healthier habits to stave off more intense problems in the future.
Here’s a closer look at what sugar does to your teeth as well as tips for improvements.
How sugar affects your teeth
Eating rich amounts of added sugars, such as table sugar and corn syrup, attracts harmful bacteria known as Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. If these bacteria stick around, they form a gummy film called plaque.
If you continue eating plentiful sugar and the plaque goes unaddressed, it can build up and alter the pH level of your mouth. As a result, your pH level may fall below the healthy range of 6.2 - 6.7, creating an acidic atmosphere. And once that happens, the acidity can wear away essential minerals in your teeth.
Plaque build-up and a reduced pH level in your mouth promote decay and cavities. Cavities are small holes worn into your teeth that can lead to infection and the need for a root canal without early treatment.
How to healthfully fit sugar into your diet
If you have a sweet tooth, fear not. You can enjoy sugary foods and drinks in moderation as long as you take good care of your oral health at the same time. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends keeping calories from added sugars in your diet to a maximum of 10% each day. So if you eat about 2,000 calories per day, that equals about 12 teaspoons or 200 calories.
Twelve teaspoons may sound like a lot, but excess sugars can sneak up on you. A standard soda, for example, contains up to 11.5 teaspoons.
To lower your sugar intake, consider these practices:
- Chew sugar-free, rather than regular gum
- Emphasize whole foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and lean protein sources, like fish and tofu
- Choose water, herbal tea, or low-fat milk over juice or soda
- Add a splash of fruit juice to unsweetened sparkling water for a soda alternative
- Learn tasty alternatives to sugary desserts, such as fresh strawberries drizzled with melted dark chocolate
While going beyond your healthy limit occasionally isn’t generally risky, doing so regularly is. In other words, stay mindful of your sugar consumption, focusing more on nutritious fare.
Improving your hygiene habits
While monitoring your sugar intake, also make your at-home oral hygiene a priority. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially after eating sweets. Flossing once a day, using mouthwash, and scheduling regular dental cleanings are also significant for improving your teeth and gum health.
To learn more about sugar and your teeth or to get the dental care you need, make an appointment today by calling Silver Lake Dentistry or message us online through our website.