Sugar is in just about everything. This can be naturally occurring sugars, added sugars or even sugar replacements. As dentists, we see individuals who have an increased sugar intake, which increases their chances of tooth decay, as well as other health conditions. Continue reading to learn more about how to minimize your sugar intake.
IS SUGAR HARMFUL?
When you think about sugar, you may picture the sugar jar you have or even sugar replacements that you might use, but there are several more varieties such as naturally occurring sugar or added sugars.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, added sugars are defined as:
- Sugars that are added during processing such as the sugar in your sugar jar
- Sugars that can be found in syrups and honey
- Sugars that you might find in concentrated juice from fruits or vegetables
According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, Added Sugars include:
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Syrup
- Raw Sugar
- White Granulated Sugar
Now, what about naturally occurring sugar? According to How Stuff Works, Naturally-Occurring Sugars include:
- Sucrose: sugar beets or sugarcane
- Fructose: fruits and honey
- Glucose: honey, fruits and vegetables
- Lactose: glucose and galactose found in milk
- Maltose: barley
- Xylose: wood or straw
From all of these types of sugars, the main question is, “are these sugars harmful?” While having sugar isn’t bad, having too much can be and can increase the risk of:
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Mental health conditions such as depression
- Skin aging
- Cellular aging
- Decreased energy
- Teeth decay
WHAT IS TOOTH DECAY AND WHO IS AT RISK?
Tooth decay is described as the damage that happens to the surface of the tooth. When an individual exposes their teeth to foods with high sugar content, the bacteria in the mouth form plaque, which sits on the teeth and can cause cavities. Not only can this damage your teeth, but it can also cause gum disease.
Everyone has the risk of experiencing tooth decay, but some people are more at risk, including:
- Children or young people
- Older people
- Individuals with medical conditions or who take medicines that decrease saliva production
- Those who smoke
PREVENTING TOOTH DECAY
Tooth decay, as mentioned, can cause real problems and frustration, but there are ways you can prevent it, such as:
- Brushing your teeth two times per day
- Flossing your teeth
- Making smart and healthy food choices
- Quitting your smoking habit
- Going to regular check-ups with your dentists
5 STEPS TO MINIMIZE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE
Fortunately, you can take many actionable steps to minimize your sugar intake to protect your oral health.
- Cutting down on sugar or sugar replacements: When drinking beverages or eating foods that you are adding sugar to, try and cut down the amount of sugar or honey that you are adding in.
- Remove soda from your drinking habits: Unfortunately, soda can be a big culprit of tooth decay. Try replacing your soda with water or for those who like the carbonation, carbonated water.
- Fresh is best, but canned or frozen can be good too: When choosing fruits, it’s always best to go with fresh fruits; however, due to seasonal change, we understand that it can sometimes be limiting. That’s why we recommend, if needed, going with canned fruits that are in natural juice and not syrup or with frozen fruit.
- Replace sugar: When preparing foods, you can replace sugar completely. For example, rather than using sugar in your desserts, try using a spice like nutmeg or fruits like strawberries.
- Look at your labels: If you are unsure of how much sugar is in a product, always check the labels and ask a store clerk for help if needed. Not only will you learn more, but you’ll find the products that you need!
MINIMIZE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE| PROTECTING YOUR TEETH | THE LANDING DENTAL SPA
At The Landing Dental Spa, we want nothing more than to help you protect your teeth and to see you smile! If you have any questions about tooth decay and cavities, please let us know!
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, we recommend you see your dentist as soon as possible due to the chance of having tooth decay:
- A toothache
- Experiencing a sensitivity to hot and cold foods/drinks
- Staining on your teeth
- Visual cavities
If you need an appointment but don’t have a regular dentist, please contact us at 304-594-2200.