Are you often craving cookies, pastries, soda or chocolate for the sweet flavor and quick energy boost? A craving for sugar has earned the nickname of a “sweet tooth,” but there’s nothing sweet about how sugar affects your teeth. So, how to satisfy a sweet tooth without sacrificing your oral health?
Why is Sugar Bad for Your Teeth?
You may have heard that sugar is bad for your teeth, but not have been told why. Sugar becomes harmful to your teeth when it reacts with the saliva and bacteria in your mouth and to change the PH balance of your mouth and form a sticky residue on your teeth, called plaque. The bacteria in your mouth adheres to your teeth through plaque, which can then damage the hard outer surface layer of your teeth, the enamel, over time.
When the enamel of a tooth becomes damaged, eventually small holes can form. These small holes are called cavities. If cavities are left untreated, they can become painful and lead to the need for procedures like root canals or tooth loss.
The Good News About Your Sweet Tooth
There is good news! There are things you can do to protect your teeth and minimize the risks of consuming sugar, like proper home dental care habits such as drinking lots of water, brushing after eating sugary foods, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings.
But even better news is that you don’t have to have sugar if you’re looking for ways to satisfy a sweet tooth!
Sugar Free Options
One of the easiest ways to satisfy a sweet tooth while minimizing the risks of sugar is to look for sugar free varieties of your favorite foods. Most sodas, energy drinks, candies, gums and pastries offer sugar free options. Sugar free options sometimes simply have no added sugar, but most utilize artificial or natural alternative sweeteners that may not be as harmful to your teeth.
What About Xylitol?
Xylitol is a naturally derived alternative sweetener that has been shown to actually promote the health of your teeth and mouth. Research shows that xylitol may even change the environment of your mouth over time to reduce bacteria and its ability to adhere to your teeth. You can find a variety of foods, sugar free candies or gum sweetened with Xylitol.
A Better Boost
One reason sugar can be so addictive is because of the energy boost it provides. Sugar can cause a sharp spike in blood glucose levels, but sugar is exactly that, a quick energy boost, and that spike may be bound to fall just as quickly. So if you’re craving sugar for that energy boost, it might be more satisfying to eat something with more sustaining nutrients like protein or B vitamins that will also support the health of your teeth, like nuts, whole grains or low fat dairy.
Call our Scottsdale Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.