How to Consume Sugar, Avoiding Cavities
It’s no secret that there is a strong link between sugar and tooth decay. Over the years, studies have proven that non-dietary sugars, also called added sugars, are the most critical risk factor for dental caries (cavities).
Unfortunately, many of our foods and beverages today contain dangerously high amounts of sugar. For example, seemingly healthy options like sodas and even juice can contain more sugar in one serving than most people should in an entire day. As a result, the average person currently consumes about 3 times the recommended daily amount of sugar, often without realizing it.
Diets rich in sugar can have numerous negative health effects, including tooth decay. But you don’t have to completely stop eating sugar to avoid cavities. Instead, use these tips to enjoy your favorite desserts without sacrificing your smile:
Practice Good Oral Hygiene: The best way to avoid cavities is to have a thorough oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day to clean between your teeth. Finally, visit your dentist twice a year for a professional cleaning and oral exam.
Avoid Sweets: Every time you eat candy, your teeth are exposed to acids created by the bacteria in your mouth. Our bodies are naturally equipped to defend against these acids. However, a healthy mouth can only handle 4-5 acid attacks a day before it gets overwhelmed and teeth start to rot. If you do consume sugar, limit it to dessert or regular meals rather than snacking on sweets 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 doesn’t sound appetizing, 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 flavorings.
Choose the Right Desserts: The truth is, some sugary snacks are worse than others. Sugars that are sticky or dissolve slowly in the mouth are particularly harmful 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 adds antioxidants to prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth.
How Can We Help?
With good oral hygiene habits, you can easily eat candy and still have a healthy, bright smile. Brushing and flossing is your first line of defense against cavities. However, regular check-ups with a dentist are also important.