Most of us understand that consuming too much sugar is bad for our teeth. Reducing your sugar intake in your everyday diet can have some positive effects on dental health as well as overall health. When sugar is consumed regularly, it can cause damage to teeth.
How Cavities Develop from Eating Sugar
Every individual’s mouth contains hundreds of bacteria. Most of the bacteria in the mouth are helpful and essential for maintaining a healthy oral environment. Some other bacteria can be harmful though. Harmful bacteria love sugars found in foods like cookies, cake, ice cream, and drinks. When harmful bacteria have the opportunity to feed on sugars, it creates an acid that destroys tooth enamel. The acids work to erode the protective enamel that’s on the outside of the teeth. When sugar is left on the teeth for harmful bacteria to enjoy, the resulting acids can work their way deeper into the teeth causing cavities.
Reducing Sugar Intake
Avoiding sugar altogether is the best way to keep from feeding harmful bacteria in your mouth. But that’s not always practical. There are some ways to start reducing your sugar intake. Firstly, just be more mindful of what you are eating. Try just reducing your intake of sugary foods. Reading labels on prepared foods can help you become more aware of the sugars you are eating. There are many foods with hidden sugars. Some so-called “healthy” snacks are over-laden with sugar including:
- Store-bought smoothies
- Pre-packaged oatmeal
- Trail mix
- Salad dressing
By being aware of foods that contain sugars, it helps you avoid the worst ones and reduce the overall amount of sugar you are ingesting.
Ways to Protect Your Teeth from Sugar
Dr. Edwin Kim understands that you will have a very difficult time trying to remove all sugars from your diet. There are some habits that can help you reduce sugar and its ill effects on your oral health. Here are a few tips to help you avoid cavities while you are working on reducing your sugar intake.
- Brush your teeth often. Everyone has a busy schedule, but brushing your teeth is not something you can cut. You can carry a portable or disposable toothbrush with you. That way you can brush your teeth after eating a meal or a snack.
- Change out your toothbrush often so it’s fresh and effective. Choose toothbrushes with diamond-shaped heads and those with triple-action bristles since they are better designed to clean hard-to-reach places.
- Use a mouth rinse. If you can’t have a toothbrush with you, you can still rinse your mouth. Rinsing your mouth out with mouthwash can eliminate a lot of the sticky residue and sugar. Use a fluoride mouth rinse if possible. Rinsing with plain mouthwash and even water is better than nothing.
- Choose snacks with less sugar. Fruit is your best option if you are trying to satisfy a sweet tooth. If fruit isn’t your choice, choose foods less sticky and foods with less sugar. For example, a slice of pound cake is better than a thick chocolate brownie.
- Chew sugar-free gum after eating. Sugar-free gum helps clean your mouth after you eat. It also helps produce saliva which helps to remove the sugar coating on your teeth.
- Eat a healthy diet. Following an unhealthy diet can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. When you eat sugars, carbohydrates, and starches plaque can build up on your teeth and cause damage to the enamel. Controlling sugar intake and making other health-conscious choices about what you are consuming helps protect your health and teeth. Choose foods and drinks with low amounts of added sugars or eliminate them if you can.
Contact Your San Pablo Dentist
If you are concerned about your oral health and preventing cavities, it’s important to schedule routine exams with Dr. Edwin Kim. Are you worried you might have a cavity? Getting it seen as soon as possible can prevent it from worsening. Call San Pablo Dental Care today and schedule an appointment.