Chocolate cake, donuts, candy, soda… Everyone, especially young children, loves to indulge in sweet treats. However, nutritionists have made sugar into the enemy, and for good reason. Consuming too much can wreak havoc across your body. Your teeth are also vulnerable to the ravages of sweets. Your children’s dentist in Hamilton is here to explain why sugar is so bad for your pearly whites.
How Sugar Causes Cavities
There are two basic types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. The complex ones get broken down after they pass through your mouth. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, get broken down while they’re still in your mouth. Bacteria feed on these sugars, and they produce acid in the process. The acid eats away at your tooth enamel, leading to plaque, tartar, and cavities.
Not All Sugars Are the Same
There are different types of sugar, and these have varying effects on your pearly whites:
- Intrinsic sugars are ones that naturally occur in foods and are essential to the foods’ structure. Fruits contain high levels of intrinsic sugar.
- Extrinsic sugars are added to foods to improve the taste or that are otherwise abundant in the food. This is the type of sugar in cookies, candy, soda, and other “junk food.”
Generally, you can consume intrinsic sugar without causing much harm to your teeth. However, while eating most (non-acidic) fruits is okay, drinking fruit juice is not okay. This is because the juice has a much higher concentration of sugar. Also, although milk sugars (lactose) is an extrinsic sugar, it is less harmful than other extrinsic sugars.
Is It Ever Okay to Indulge?
What if you really, really, really want to eat that slice of cake? That’s okay! Indulging once in a while won’t make your teeth rot out of your mouth. However, when you do decide to have a treat, take the following steps to mitigate the harm sugar can do to your pearly whites:
- Brush your teeth soon after you eat, but not too soon. Foods with a lot of acid can temporarily weaken your tooth enamel, meaning you might cause accidental damage when you brush. Wait for about an hour before you care for your pearly whites.
- Drink water. The water will rinse away some of the sugar.
- Don’t take too long. Every time you chew on a bite of a sugar-filled food or a take a sip of a sweet drink, a new acid attack begins in your mouth. By consuming your treat at a quick pace, you limit the amount of time that your teeth are being assaulted.
- Chew sugar-free gum after you eat. This will increase saliva production and help to get rid of the sugar that’s clinging to your teeth.
Sugar is hard to resist, but it’s one of your teeth’s worst enemies. Be smart about your diet so your whole body, including your pearly whites, will be healthier. Your dentist in Hamilton will be proud of you!
About the Author
Dr. Alan Arrington is proud to provide a range of dental services to folks in Hamilton. If you have questions about how to care for your teeth, or if it’s time for your next cleaning, contact our office at 706-628-0011.