It’s no secret that there is a strong link between sugar and tooth decay. For years, studies have proven that dietary-free sugars, also called added sugars, are the most critical risk factor for dental caries (cavities).
Unfortunately, most of our food and drinks today contain dangerously high amounts of sugar. For example, sodas, and even seemingly healthy options like juice, can contain more sugar in one serving than most people should have in an entire day. Consequently, the average person currently consumes about 3x the daily recommended amount of sugar, often without realizing it.
Sugar-rich diets can have a myriad of negative health effects, including tooth decay. However, you don’t have to stop eating sugar altogether to avoid cavities. Instead, use these tips to enjoy your favorite sweets without comprising your smile:
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene: The best way to avoid cavities is by having a thorough oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice per day and clean between your teeth once each day by flossing. Finally, visit your dentist twice per year for a professional cleaning and oral exam.
- Space Out the Sweets: Every time you eat sugar, your teeth are exposed to acids formed by the bacteria in your mouth. Our bodies are naturally equipped to defend against these acids. However, a healthy mouth can only handle about 4-5 acid attacks per day before it becomes overwhelmed and teeth begin to decay. If you do eat sugar, limit it to dessert or during regular mealtimes, rather than having a sweet snack between meals.
- Drink Water: If possible, resist the urge to sip sodas and other sugary drinks, especially between meals. Instead, choose water for a healthy, sugar-free option. If plain water sounds unappetizing, try flavoring it with fresh fruits and citrus. Flavored water and seltzer are also options but should be consumed sparingly if they contain added sugar or acidic flavoring.
- Pick the Right Sweets: The truth is, some sugary snacks are worse than others. Candies that are sticky or dissolve slowly in the mouth are particularly damaging to teeth and should be avoided. This includes caramels, gummies, sour candies, and other sticky treats. One of the best tooth-friendly desserts is chocolate. Dark chocolate, in particular, often contains less sugar than milk chocolate and has added antioxidants to keep bacteria from sticking to your teeth.
How We Can Help
With good oral hygiene habits, you can easily eat sugar and still maintain a healthy, bright smile. Brushing and flossing are your first line of defense against cavities. However, regular check-ups with a dentist are also essential. At Sage Dental Care, we pride ourselves on offering personalized, high-quality dental care. If you’re overdue for your next exam, contact us today for an appointment.