Depending on your lifestyle, this statement may or may not be true. It turns out the amount of sugar we eat may be less harmful to your dental health than the frequency of which you consume sugar. This is why sugary sodas and energy drinks are so dangerous – sipping these beverages provide repeated hits of sugar on your teeth. These beverages are also highly acidic, which promotes demineralization. Regardless of amount of sugar or frequency of sugar intake, a diet built around refined and processed carbohydrate foods can lead to tooth decay and gum inflammation.
How Much Is Too Much?
Added sugars are worse for teeth than naturally occurring sugars. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests no more than 10% of your total energy intake should come from added sugars. This means if you ate a 2000 calorie/day diet, 200 calories can come from added sugars (50 grams). The WHO also suggests consuming less than four added sugar sources each day.
Artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Equal don’t seem to promote periodontal disease or cavities. Sugar alcohols (xylitol or erythritol) also don’t seem to influence your oral health. Chewing gum containing xylitol after meals may decrease your risk of forming cavities.
A cavity is a hole in the tooth’s enamel. A cavity is a result from the build-up of plaque (a sticky substance mainly consisting of bacteria). When breaking down sugar, bacteria creates acid and this is what can eat away at your teeth. Cavities may not hurt at first, but as they get bigger and touch nerves, they may be painful. Left untreated, they can get bigger and cause a tooth abscess, among many other problems.
Inflammation of the gum tissue, called gingivitis, is an early stage of periodontal disease. About half of American adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Left untreated, the inflammation will lead to “pockets”, the space between the teeth and gums. Bacteria can fill these pockets and lead to periodontitis, the destruction of tissues that connect your teeth to your bone. In addition to this, when gums are inflamed and broken, bacteria can enter your bloodstream more easily, leading to other chronic health and heart problems.
-Brush Your Teeth: Baking soda based toothpaste will raise the pH in your mouth and decrease your risk for cavities.
-Avoid smoking: Bad for gum and tooth health
-Drink Green Tea: This decreases inflammation, prevents growth of cavity causing bacteria, may slow progression of oral cancer, and kills odor-causing bacteria!
-Whole, Nutrient-Dense Foods: Foods like leafy green veggies, nuts, seeds, hard aged cheeses, plain yogurt, meats, beans, mushrooms, fish, and eggs are all good examples.
-Raw, Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables: Raw veggies can clean your teeth to a certain degree. Eating an apple as dessert after lunch will help remove food particles that may have stuck to your teeth.
-Limit Added Sugars: Soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, candy, etc.
-Get Regular Exercise: Exercise seems to protect against periodontal disease.