I’ve been thinking a lot about the positive and negative effects of reducing my sugar intake during Sugar Free February. On the list of positives are the potential physical health benefits, such as clearer skin or less excess weight – although I have yet to experience either of these things. Sugar can also have an effect on your teeth, which I think we tend to forget about.
Since I don’t know all that much about the effect on sugar on teeth, I asked the experts at Buttercup 7 Day Dental to explain. Here’s what they had to say.
“Sugar can be bad for ya. We know it, you know it, Rachel knows it, even the kid next door knows it!
Not only does a sugar addiction come with the added ‘benefit’ of a few extra inches round the waist, it can seriously damage your teeth if you’re not careful.
But why is sugar so bad for your teeth?
Fun fact, it actually not the sugar that’s the bad guy, it’s the domino chain of events that follow when you’ve eaten a piece of cake or had a chocolate frappucino.
The bacteria that live in your mouth feed on sugar and it’s this bacteria that forms plaque. Annoying, we know!
Every time you eat a snack or have a meal, plaque starts building up. If your teeth are not brushed frequently, the plaque forms an acid that eventually starts destroying your layers of enamel (the protective layer to your teeth). This is bad, real bad.
When the bacteria makes its way through the enamel, small holes start to appear in the surface of the tooth. Enter the notorious cavity.
Now, it’s almost impossible to cut sugar out of your diet completely and even if you could life would be pretty boring without an occasional piece of chocolate and delicious brownie.
If you’re ready to cut out most sugar from your diet, Chapeau!
If you’re not ready to make that kind of commitment, you can still make small changes to help your teeth. For example, start with staying away from sticky treats and carbonated soft drinks because both are super nasty fellas. Sticky foods, as you can imagine, stick to your teeth and the longer food sticks around in your mouth, the worse it is for your teeth. Soft drinks contain phosphoric and citric acids, which can both lead to tooth decay.
But chin up, buttercup. There are plenty of ways to protect your precious pearls and prevent the damage that sugar causes.
10 Ways To Protect Your Teeth From Sugar
- Brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Make sure you change your toothbrush or brush head about every three months.
- Floss, floss, floss. Yes, we know it’s a tedious task but have a little faith, it’ll make a huge difference.
- Chew sugar-free gum after your meals, chewing helps your mouth produce more saliva and saliva helps cancel out the acid in your mouth.*
- Swap your energy drinks and soft drinks with sugar-free alternatives.
- (If you’re still a little kid on the inside, you’ll like this one) If you drink with a straw, you’ll reduce the contact between the sugar and your teeth, which is good for your teeth.
- Keep a close eye on the nutrition labels on your food, you’ll be surprised how many foods are stuffed with sugar.
- Stay away from sticky candies. They really aren’t worth the hassle.
- See your dentist regularly. Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, tooth decay still happens naturally over time. Like all other things in life, the sooner you take action, the easier it is to fix.
- Don’t drink or eat anything between brushing your teeth at night and going to bed, except for water.”
About the author
Buttercup 7 Day Dental is a dentist located in Glasgow’s West End. Butterup was founded in 2011 by Gerwyn and Angela Rowlands with the aim of creating a clinic where patients would feel safe and relaxed. At Buttercup, our finest mission is to end our patients dentist fear and provide them with a high quality service. Follow Buttercup 7 Day Dental on facebook and twitter.
*Rachel: Personally I don’t like to chew gum because I don’t believe it’s very healthy. But if you like gum then follow this advice and choose a sugar free version.