We’ve all joked about having a sweet tooth. Who can resist the warm goodness of a chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven, or the convenience of a candy bar when you need a snack in a hurry?
But have you ever stopped to think about what that sweet tooth could be doing to your teeth?
How does sugar affect our teeth?
You may be aware that eating too much sugar has a negative effect on your weight, your blood pressure, and more, but don’t forget that it can have a negative effect on your teeth as well.
We all have bacteria in our mouths (don’t worry, they’re safe and useful), and these bacteria feed on sugar. When we eat sugar, the bacteria feed as well, and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid clings to our teeth and, over time, wears down the enamel. This leads to tooth decay, cavities, and in worst-case scenarios, even tooth loss.
What can we do to take care of our teeth?
Despite knowing why we shouldn’t, most of us still eat sugar occasionally. Here are a few tips for making sure that the sugar we eat doesn’t lead to dental problems down the road:
- Brush and floss often: This will clean the sugar from your mouth and the acid from your teeth.
- Drink water: If you can’t brush right away, drinking water after eating sugar can help clean out your mouth a little, at least until you can get to a toothbrush.
- Visit the dentist regularly: Your dentist can catch problem areas and take action before little problems have the chance to turn into big ones.
- Eat less sugar: This sounds impossible for some of us, but the best way to avoid the damage that sugar does to your teeth is just to cut down your sugar consumption.
How can we cut down on cravings for sugar?
The cravings we get for sweet sugary goodness can be almost overwhelming at times. Here are some tips for resisting:
- Say no to soda: Did you know how much sugar your favorite soda actually has in it? There are 39 grams in a 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola which equals 10 teaspoons of sugar! Try reaching for a different drink instead, like water. And if you can’t resist the siren call of soda, diet sodas will at least cut down on your sugar intake.
- Say yes to fruit: If you’re craving something sweet, try a piece of fruit instead; while fruit does have sugar in it, it generally has less than processed foods, and you’ll get vitamins and fiber as well.
- Rethink your baking: You can cut back the sugar in a lot of recipes for cookies, brownies, and cakes and never taste the difference. Or you can substitute unsweetened applesauce for some or all of the sugar in a recipe.
- Be kind to yourself: Quitting sugar isn’t easy! If you indulge from time to time, don’t beat yourself up about it; just keep trying. You may even find that allowing yourself the occasional indulgence (once a week, for instance) helps you resist the rest of the time.
So take action now to start cutting down your sugar intake! Your teeth will thank you. And contact us if you’d like to set up an appointment to see a dentist.