Not everything about sugar is sweet. For all its tasty goodness, sugar can wreak serious havoc on your oral health by turning your mouth’s bacteria against you.
As shocking as it sounds, everyone's mouth contains hundreds of bacteria. Now, before you reach in a panic for the Listerine bottle, note that these oral bacteria are mostly beneficial — they keep your mouth clean! But a few of them can interact with sugar in a negative way, creating acid that corrodes enamel and leads to tooth decay (remember: dental cavities and tooth decay are bacterial infections). When you snack on ice cream or sip a latté, the included sugars might please your taste buds, but they also quietly sabotage the health of your teeth and gums.
With that said, oral health’s conflict with sugar is a winnable contest. All victory requires is that you have both the willpower to avoid sugary foods and the knowledge to do so — enter Van Dyke General & Implant Dentistry. Our dentists in Gainesville have seen firsthand the negative impact of sugar on patients’ teeth and gums. In response, we’ve created a four-step plan for stopping the sugar sabotage, protecting your oral health and maintaining a bright smile.
1. Avoid Foods With High Sugar Contents
Processed foods, which nearly always contain sugar, predominate in Americans’ diets. These sugary items are found at grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, and most homemade dishes that contain processed ingredients. This situation is improving as people embrace organic, farm-to-table, and other initiatives that promote eating foods directly from their sources. But processed foods are still tough to avoid. That said, the following comprise common foods and drinks surprisingly high in sugar that should be avoided for the sake of oral health.
- Barbecue Sauce
- Low-Fat Yogurt
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Flavored Coffee
- Iced Tea
- Fruit Juice
- Protein Bars
- Sports Drinks
- Chocolate Milk
- Pre-Made Soup
- Canned Fruit
- Breakfast Cereal
2. Inspect Labels For Nutrition Facts
If a food didn't make the "surprisingly" sugary list, that doesn’t mean it’s not still high in sugar and bad for teeth and gums. We know that items considered healthy — low-fat yogurt, granola, fruit juice — can be high in sugar.
So don't be fooled by preconceived notions, urban legends, or clever packages that market to healthy living. More than what's on the front of the food package, the nutritional facts on the back are what matter the most for oral health.
A food’s sugar content number, alone, might not indicate much. But by comparing different brands of items, you can find the least sugary among them. Or maybe you’ll decide that category of food is too sugary, in general.
A recommended daily sugar intake, according to The American Heart Association (AHA), is no more than 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women. Our dentists suggest eating less sugar than even that — for some perspective: one 16 oz can of a popular energy drink contains 54 grams of sugar. Suffice to say, green tea is a better option for your caffeine fix.
3. Learn The Pseudonyms For Sugar
Just as there are people in your life, close friends or family, who may call you by a different name than your birth name, food manufacturers don’t always reference sugar as "sugar."
This substance can be processed into several forms, each with its own name. Though not the same as pure, unadulterated sugar, these substances are sugar derivatives and thus similarly as bad as sugar for oral health.
While you're checking nutrition facts, specifically sugar content, to avoid sugary foods, keep an eye out for sugar-based ingredients, as well. These substances, which are detrimental to oral health, might carry any of the following sugar aliases: fructose, sorbitol, maltodextrin, dextrose, sucrose, rice syrup, and molasses.
4. Schedule Dental Check-Ups & Cleanings
Diets are essential to oral health: the less sugar is eaten, the less likely you'll be to have tooth decay. Preventing cavities isn't only about suppressing your sweet tooth, though. You also must brush and floss each day, as well as visit the dentist twice a year for a dental check-up and cleaning. At Van Dyke General & Implant Dentistry, we're not only great at telling you which not to eat to prevent cavities.
We're also adept at cleaning teeth and gums to promote lasting oral health. Should you or a loved have a dental issue, such as falling prey to sugar sabotage, we have fillings and the latest dental procedures to get patients fixed up so they can go back to eating whatever they want — hopefully, lots of vegetables and sugar-free items. Contact us to schedule a check-up at our Gainesville dentist office!