Posts for tag: sugar
Tooth decay doesn't appear out of nowhere. It begins with bacteria, which produce acid that softens and erodes tooth enamel. Without adequate enamel protection, cavities can develop.
So, one of our prevention goals is to decrease populations of disease-causing bacteria. One way is to deprive them of carbohydrates, a prime food source, most notably refined sugar. That's why for decades dentists have instructed patients to limit their intake of sugar, especially between meal snacks.
Ironically, we're now consuming more rather than less sugar from a generation ago. The higher consumption impacts more than dental health — it's believed to be a contributing factor in many health problems, especially in children. Thirty years ago it was nearly impossible to find a child in the U.S. with type 2 diabetes: today, there are over 50,000 documented juvenile cases.
Cutting back isn't easy. For one thing, we're hard-wired for sweet-tasting foods. Our ancestors trusted such foods when there was limited food safety knowledge. Most of us today still have our "sweet tooth."
There's also another factor: the processed food industry. When food researchers concluded fats were a health hazard the government changed dietary guidelines. Food processors faced a problem because they used fats as a flavor enhancer. To restore flavor they began adding small amounts of sugar to foods like lunch meat, bread, tomato sauce and peanut butter. Today, three-quarters of the 600,000 available processed food items contain some form of added sugar.
Although difficult given your available supermarket choices, limiting your sugar intake to the recommended 6 teaspoons a day will reduce your risk for dental and some general diseases. There are things you can do: replace processed foods with more fresh fruits and vegetables; read food labels for sugar content to make better purchasing decisions; drink water for hydration rather than soda (which can contain two-thirds of your daily recommended sugar allowance), sports drinks or juices; and exercise regularly.
Keeping your sugar consumption under control will help you reduce the risk of tooth decay. You'll be helping your overall health too.
If you would like more information on the effect of sugar on health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Bitter Truth about Sugar.”
Discover the effects that sugar has on your smile and why you should avoid it.
It’s so difficult to turn down that scoop of ice cream or to stop craving a bit of dessert after dinner. In fact, it’s pretty hard to stay away from sugar altogether, and our Saginaw dentist Dr. Greg Herzler understands this completely. However, sugar can have some pretty nasty effects on your smile.
How Sugar Affects Your Smile
How much sugar you consume on a regular basis can have quite the impact on your oral health and can certainly increase your chances of developing cavities.
Sugar found in sodas and juices combines with natural bacteria in your mouth and forms acid, which can eat away at healthy tooth enamel.
And the same goes for foods that contain sugar. You would be amazed how many foods contain added sugars. Don’t believe us? Just look at the nutritional labels on most food items and you’ll be amazed how much sugar is in them.
Other Factors that Play into Cavities
How long it takes you to consume sugary beverages and snacks also plays a role in how damaging it can be to your smile. How so? Because plaque is always found along the teeth and gums and plaque contains bacteria that feeds off sugar.
It doesn't take long for the bacteria to turn that sugar into acid. These acid attacks last for a full 30 minutes, and a new acid attack is created every time you consume more sugar. So the longer it takes you to sip that soda or eat that slice of cake the more detrimental sugar will be for your smile.
Other Dental Problems Caused by Sugar
Our Saginaw general dentist has seen it all and can tell you that sugar is a big culprit for dental erosion, which can do more than just cause cavities. Severe erosion of your teeth can also cause:
- Tooth loss
- Gum recession or gum disease
- Changes in your bite
It’s important that you do whatever’s possible to keep your smile healthy, and part of that means coming in every six months for your routine cleaning. By coming in twice a year to our Saginaw dental office Dr. Herzler can make sure that your smile stays healthy for a long time.
You probably know that tooth decay results when the bacteria in your mouth release acids after consuming sugars. After you eat sugars, particularly the type of sugar known as sucrose, increased acid in your mouth begins to dissolve the enamel and dentin in your teeth, and you end up with cavities.
What are the Types of Sugars?
Modern diets include several types of sugars. Most of these are fermented by oral bacteria, producing acids that are harmful to teeth.
- Sucrose (commonly known as sugar)
- Glucose (released from starch consumption)
- Lactose (milk sugar) — Less acid is produced from this type of sugar
- Fructose (found naturally in fruit and also added to many processed foods)
Recommended intake of “free sugars” is no more than 10 teaspoons per day. Note that a can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons! Soft drinks are the largest source of sugar consumption in the U.S. In 2003, for example, Americans drank an average of 52 gallons of soft drinks. Average per capita consumption of all sugars in the U.S. was 141.5 pounds (64.3 kg) one of the highest levels in the world.
Sugar substitute xylitol (which is chemically similar to sugar but does not cause decay) can be part of a preventive program to reduce or control tooth decay. Chewing gum sweetened with xylitol stimulates saliva flow and helps protect against decay.
Sugars Released from Starches
Starches are foods like rice, potatoes, or bread. When you eat refined starches, such as white bread and rice, enzymes in your saliva release glucose. However, these foods have a lower potential to produce decay than foods with added sugars. When sugars are added to starchy foods, as in baked products and breakfast cereals, the potential for decay increases.
Less refined starches such as whole grains require more chewing and stimulate secretion of saliva, which protects from harmful acids.
The Case for Fruit
Fresh fruit has not been shown to produce cavities, so it makes sense to eat them instead of sugary desserts and snacks. Dried fruit is more of a problem because the drying process releases free sugars.