Dietary sugar is the main contributor to your risk of cavities. The good new is that most people are aware of this, and many Americans are trying to cut down on sugar consumption. This is not only good for your weight and overall health, it can cut down on your need for reconstructive dentistry.
However, the problem with sugar in the modern diet isn’t that we’re just eating a lot of sugar directly–people don’t eat a third pound of sugar each day by spooning it into their coffee–it’s that sugar is in so many things we’re eating. You might not be aware of all the places where sugar can be introduced into your diet. Here are some of the places where sugar might sneak into your diet.
Many processed foods contain high levels of sugar. Even foods that taste savory can contain very high levels of sugar. If you are buying or eating processed foods, make a point to look at the nutrition information to learn how much sugar might be hiding in the food you’re ordering.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to reduce the sugar you get from processed foods is by doing more cooking at home. But even here you have to be alert to potential hidden sources of sugar. One of these sources is packaged sauces that you might be using to flavor your foods.
Some of these sauces contain not just salt and spices, but also hefty doses of sugar. You wouldn’t want to add a tablespoon of sugar to a recipe, but you might be adding that much or more through the sauces you use. Not to mention damaging acids they may contain, too!
Many people think that switching from sugary sodas to fruit juices is going to be good for their teeth, but it might not be as big a benefit as you think. Fruit juices can have as much sugar in them as soda, and they can sometimes be as acidic, too.
Treat fruit juices like a treat and consume them only occasionally. It’s better to get fruits in the form of whole fruits, which contain more fiber and nutrients in addition to sugars and acids.
Smoothies are whole fruits, so that makes them healthy, too, right? Not necessarily. If a smoothie is just blended fruits and/or vegetables, then it might be good, but that’s rarely the case. Typically, smoothies that you buy contain many things beside just whole fruits and veggies. Among the things that can be added to smoothies are fruit juices, sorbet, agave nectar, honey, and pure sugar–all of which are going to add sugar to the smoothie.
This is a good time to dispel the myth that some types of sugar are just healthier than others. When it comes to tooth decay, sugar is sugar–oral bacteria don’t care if it’s high fructose corn syrup or agave nectar.
Many people in the US consume coffee on a daily basis, and that can be bad news for our teeth. In addition to the potential for staining, Americans add an average of three teaspoons of sugar to their coffee every day.
But that’s nothing compared to the sugar dose you might be getting when you buy coffee drinks at your local coffee shop. Some of those coffee drinks can contain as much as 20 teaspoons of sugar! Be aware how much sugar is in your daily order, and consider cutting back if it’s excessive.
Alcoholic drinks can be bad for your oral health generally, but they’re also a potential source of damaging sugar. Whether you’re drinking wine, beer, or mixed drinks, you’re probably consuming a significant amount of added sugar along with alcohol. And if you’re not rinsing with water or brushing properly after a night of drinking, you’re increasing the risk.
Regular Checkups Help Monitor Oral Health
It’s important to get regular checkups to protect your oral health. You should see a dentist every six months to watch for cavities and gum disease. During your checkup, we can also help you evaluate your diet and other potential risk factors so that you’ll have fewer cavities at future checkups.