How Does Sugar Affect Teeth?

Posted on April 18, 2023 by Associates of Dentistry

Impact of sugar on dental health

One of the most common causes of tooth decay is a high-sugar diet. In fact, it’s probably the leading cause of cavities in the United States. This week, we’ll discuss how sugar impacts teeth and explore some strategies for reducing sugar intake.

How Sugar Damages Teeth

Sugar can be harmful to teeth because it provides food for the bacteria that live in the mouth. When you consume sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid then attacks the enamel, which is the hard, protective outer layer of the teeth, causing it to weaken and break down over time.

Repeated exposure to sugar and acid can lead to tooth decay, the process by which cavities form in the teeth. Once a cavity has formed, it can continue to grow and spread if left untreated, eventually leading to more serious dental problems.

Strategies for Reducing Sugar Consumption

Almost all of us have enough sugar in our diet to experience tooth decay. It is estimated that approximately 92% of Americans over the age of 20 have experienced tooth decay at some point in their lives, and sugar is a major contributing factor to this problem. There are three primary ways to improve the health of your teeth, and combining all three will bring the best results:

  1. Reducing Sugar Intake
  2. Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
  3. Receiving Regular Dental Care

For the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on strategies to reduce sugar consumption. Here are some of the most common ways people find success in restricting dietary sugar:

  1. Read food labels: Look for added sugars in the ingredients list and choose foods with little or no added sugars.
  2. Choose whole foods: Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are all low in added sugars and high in nutrients.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks: Sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juices are often high in added sugars. Instead, choose water, unsweetened tea or coffee, or low-sugar beverages like milk or sparkling water.
  4. Substitute with healthier alternatives: Use natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup instead of sugar, or try using spices like cinnamon or nutmeg to add flavor without adding sugar.
  5. Plan ahead: Make a meal plan and grocery list to help you choose healthier options and avoid impulse purchases.

By making these small changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can gradually reduce your sugar intake and improve your dental health.

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