Don’t let your sweet tooth wreak havoc on your oral health.

We all crave sugar and want a sweet treat now and then. But did you know that prolonged exposure to sugar and sweets can cause damage, and even tooth decay, to your teeth? If you don’t want to give up all of your sweet treats, there are a few precautions you can take to make sure your daily sugar intake isn’t harming your teeth.

How does sugar impact your oral health?

While sugar is naturally present in many foods and drinks, prolonged exposure to sugar on your teeth can cause major harm. When sugars from the foods and drinks we consume combine with the bacteria present in your mouth, it can form an acid, which then turns into a sticky film we know as plaque. The plaque can then stick to the enamel of your teeth, and eat away at that protective coating of your teeth, which can cause dental decay and cavities. Once plaque matures and forms into calculus (tartar), the only way to remove it from your teeth is by a dental professional during your biannual checkup.

In 2010, the World Health Organization, or WHO, performed a study where they found a correlation between the consumption of sugar and the increase in cavities and other dental-related issues. Sugar-related dental issues are shown to be higher in children because the enamel on their primary, or baby, teeth isn’t as thick as the enamel on adult, or permanent, teeth. Children also don’t have a tendency to have steady oral habits like adults do, meaning children aren’t as well equipped at brushing their teeth properly, or brushing and flossing as long as they should be, which can also lead to oral health issues.

You don’t have to stay completely away from sugar.

While prolonged exposure to sugar can cause dental issues, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite ice cream or juice. It just means there are precautions you can take to help prevent sugars from taking over your mouth.

Dentists and dietitians recommend consuming only 5% of your daily dietary intake for sugar. For adults, that equals 30 grams or sugar, or about seven teaspoons of sugar spread throughout the day. For children, that number is even less at 24 grams of sugar throughout the day.

Don’t Sip

Many drinks you consume contain sugar, including sodas and juices. Dentists recommend not sipping on these type of drinks because the longer it takes for you to consume your drinks, the longer the sugars and bacteria can wreak havoc in your mouth. That’s why dentists recommend drinking your sweet drinks instead of sipping them.

Try Sugar-free Gum

If you like to chew gum, consider switching to a sugar-free variety. Sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva production in your mouth, which helps to wash the bacteria away in your mouth. And the less bacteria there is in your mouth, the less of a chance there is for plaque to form.

Don’t Suck on Candy

Just like you shouldn’t sip on sugary drinks, the same goes for candy. Dentists recommended not sucking on candy because of the prolonged exposure to sugar, which is harmful for your teeth and mouth.

Eat a Well-balanced Diet

Eating well-balanced meals isn’t just beneficial for your body, but it’s beneficial for your mouth, as well. Leafy greens, like kale, and fibrous vegetables, like celery, can act like nature’s toothbrushes and help brush away bacteria and plaque buildup that is on your teeth. These foods are also high in vitamins and minerals essential for strong teeth and gums. Other food-friendly foods are those high in calcium, like cheese and milk, and citrus fruits, which have plenty of vitamins to help keep your teeth healthy.

Drink More Water

Doctors and dentists can’t say this enough—drink more water. Water is essential to keep your body hydrated throughout the day. And water also helps to wash out the bacteria in your mouth, which is the cause of plaque on your teeth. Instead of sipping on juice or soda throughout the day, drink more water to quench your thirst—with water, you can sip on it throughout the day without causing harm to your teeth.

Dilute Your Child’s Juice

Juice has a high concentration of sugar and some juices even contain added sugars. To help combat sugar intake, dilute your child’s juice with water. This will cut down on their sugar intake, but they can still get their vitamins and minerals from their daily juice intake. The diluted juice also produces fewer sugars and bacteria in the mouth, meaning that sipping on diluted juice is better for children than sipping on straight juice.

Visit Bloomington Modern Dentistry for more sugar-reducing tips.

If you are looking for more ways to cut down your sugar intake to help keep your mouth healthy, be sure to make an appointment for your biannual dental evaluation at Bloomington Modern Dentistry. We look forward to seeing you and keeping your teeth healthy!