Diets high in sugar have been linked to obesity and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. But did you know, a high-sugar diet can impact your dental health too? The more sugar you consume, the more you increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Knowing what sugar can do to your teeth and how you can limit your intake can help you make informed decisions about your diet. So let’s talk about sugar, what it can do to your teeth and how to protect your pearly whites.
How does sugar affect your teeth?
Every time you consume sugar, it kick-starts the metabolism of oral bacteria. The most common being streptococcus mutans, a bacteria which lives in your mouth and feeds on the sugars you eat for energy. As it feeds, it releases enamel eroding acids causing tooth decay (dental caries). So, the more sugar you consume, the more acids they produce. If this process isn’t interrupted, the bacteria can spread to your gum line and irritate or, in some cases, infect your gums.
Sugary drinks and foods you should avoid
According to the 2011-12 Australian Health Survey sugars consumption report, foods and drinks with high sugar content include:
- soft drinks, sports and energy drinks (19%)
- pastries, biscuits, cakes, muffins and cake-like desserts (14%)
- fruit juice and fruit drinks (13%)
- sugar, honey, and syrups (11.6%)
- confectionary and cereal/nut/fruit/seed bars (8.7%).
Luckily, most of these foods are considered discretionary in a healthy diet which means they can be limited or, better yet, avoided entirely.
How to protect your teeth from sugar
It all starts with your diet. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting your intake of foods and drinks with high sugar content. How? Firstly, check the nutrition labels of all the foods and drinks you buy, avoiding those with a high sugar content. Throughout the day, avoid sugary snacks and drinks in between meals. But if you can’t resist, drink water or at least rinse your mouth afterwards.
Despite how healthy your diet is, you should also practice good oral hygiene to help reduce bacteria in your mouth. This can help lower your risk of tooth decay and other dental problems. At Gosford Family Dentist, we recommend:
- brushing your teeth morning and night with toothpaste containing fluoride
- flossing once a day to remove food and bacteria from between your teeth
- drinking water consistently throughout the day
- booking regular dental check-ups.
Book an appointment with Gosford Family Dentist
Your fight against sugar-induced tooth decay and gum disease starts with professional dental care. So if it’s been a while since your last dental check-up, contact the team at Gosford Family Dentist to make a booking.