Since you were a child you have heard that sugar is bad for teeth. It is true that sugars of all types break down in the mouth to become excellent food sources for the bacteria that lives there. It is the bacteria that causes cavities.
If you care about maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile, then you may have already taken several steps to help protect your teeth and gums. For instance, you might be diligent about brushing your teeth twice a day, as recommended by your dentist, and even about seeing the dentist at least twice a year for professional checkups and cleanings. That said, if you are not making smart choices about what you eat and drink, you are still at a high risk of struggling with cavities and gum disease. What you consume on a daily basis can great impact your overall health, including your smile, so make sure that you are choosing healthy items as often as possible.
Is it the sugar that is bad for my teeth or is it the number of times in a day that I eat it?
If you consider that all foods have some sort of sugar in them, then it really doesn’t matter what you eat. Really, everything that you eat including the healthy snacks will cause cavities. A single green pea has enough sugar in it to feed every plaque cell in your mouth. That goes for a carrot stick also! So what can we do if everything is bad?
Limit the times in the day that you eat. A healthy adult should only eat 3-4 times a day. For kids, add another snack. That is it! The American Dental Association has been fighting with the American Dietetics Assoc over their suggestions for many small meals. So far the dietitians are making recommendations that are harmful to Americas oral health.
If you decrease the number of exposures to sugar, then regular oral hygiene habits will be fine. Just assume that anything that passes your lips that is not water will cause cavities. This includes milk and juice boxes.
Drink Plenty of Water
A simple way you can help to protect your smile is by drinking more water. Water is essential to your overall health, but it is especially important to your smile. That’s because water can help to gently rinse food particles and bacteria from the mouth. Rinsing the bad food sugar out will help your teeth. It also helps you produce saliva, which is a natural defense against tartar.
Saliva makes it more difficult for bacteria to stick to the surface of the teeth, where it can cause erosion.
Don’t Overdo the Sugar
One of the biggest culprits behind many cavities’ development is consuming too much sugar on a regular basis. Sugar allows bacteria in the mouth to create acidity, which can erode the teeth’s enamel, leading to sensitivity and eventually infection. Therefore, the more sugar you consume, the more likely you are to suffer from many dental problems, including cavities. You might consider snacking on dark chocolate if you really need something. Dark chocolate has been shown to be anti-cavity.
Yes, limiting sweet things that linger in the mouth long after you chewed then up is a smart choice. a perfect example of this would be tootsie rolls. You enjoy chewing them up but they are sticky and sit on your teeth for 20-40 minutes. This long term sugar bath is a dream come true for your mouth bacteria.
That said, you should also avoid packaged foods with a high sugar content. So check the labels to see if sugar is a leading ingredient before you buy. You might be shocked to learn just how many of your favorite foods are filled with added sugar. Sodas and sports drinks are also obvious sugar sources that are not good for your teeth.
What Cranberries Do for Teeth
Glucans (plaque lining) cover teeth and house bacteria. Compounds found in cranberries interfere with glucan creation and lower acidity levels caused by bacteria. Studies conducted by food scientists found S. mutans levels decreased 70%. Although the molecules in cranberries that contribute to oral health do not rid your mouth of bacteria, the fruit does stand in the way of what leads to tooth decay.
Want to Protect Your Smile? Just assume that sugar is bad for your teeth.
Schedule a preventive appointment with Dr. Fondriest by calling us at (847) 234-0517. We welcome patients from the North Shore area of Chicago.