Cookies, soda, candy, and cake – it seems like everywhere you go, sugary options tempt not only you, but your children. While sugar in moderation will not have a noticeable effect on your teeth, incorporating too much in your diet can cause tooth decay and other dental issues.
The Effect of Sugar
When you consume sugar, special bacteria in your mouth digest the food and start to produce acids that specifically feed on the sugar. Immediately after eating and over time, these acids can wear down tooth enamel, which can eventually cause tooth decay. This process is known as an “acid attack” because in the 20 minutes after eating, the acids will do the most damage to the teeth. As a result, the more sugar you consume during your day, the more you expose your teeth to these decay-causing acids.
What Your Dentist Recommends
Any dentist will tell you that one of the best ways to protect your teeth from these acid attacks is to limit sugar in your diet. We also recommend doing the following to reduce exposure to sugar:
- Before purchasing food, check the label to see if there are any “hidden” sugars (like glucose, fructose, etc.)
- Try to maintain a balanced diet that includes protein, vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy.
- Do what you can to avoid snacking in between meals.
- Eat sugary snacks or treats near the end of the day or at a time when you plan to brush your teeth shortly afterward.
- Instead of drinking soda or fruit juices, substitute these drinks with water.
- Go for healthy snacks, like cheese, peanut butter, yogurt, and fruit.
- Limit your consumption of sugary foods that tend to remain in the mouth for an extended period of time, like sticky, hard, or chewy types of candy.
As your dentist, we also can’t forget to mention how important it is to practice good dental hygiene to combat the effects of sugar on your teeth. Floss every day, brush your teeth thoroughly after you eat, and come into our office every six months for a checkup and cleaning.