At North Tonawanda Family Dentistry, our patients constantly ask us how they can better care for their teeth. After all, many severe dental ailments—including gum disease and tooth decay—can be limited or avoided altogether with good preventive care: brushing teeth twice daily, flossing every day, and regularly visiting our office for cleanings and exams.
Today, we want to talk about an often overlooked aspect of your dental health, your diet. You probably know that a high intake of sugar can increase your risk for cavities, but do you know why? Even if you do understand why sugar can be harmful, do you know about sugar alternatives that are healthier for your teeth? Read on as Dr. Clauser and the rest of our team shed some light on this topic!
Why Is Sugar Bad for Teeth?
When you eat foods containing sugar and starches, the bacteria in your mouth immediately get to work. As they break down sugar and starch, they release acid that starts to wear away at your enamel (the protective outer coating on your teeth). Over time, the buildup of acid and bacteria can result in plaque, a sticky biofilm that coats your teeth and can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. You can help avoid this by limiting your sugar intake and practicing good preventive care habits.
Can Sugar Alternatives Help Keep Your Teeth Healthy?
While some sugar alternatives can keep your teeth healthy, not all sugar alternatives are created equal. Xylitol, a natural plant-based sweetener often used to sweeten sugar-free gum, helps stop acid-producing bacteria by keeping a neutral pH in your mouth. This limits the ability of bacteria to cause tooth decay. Research also shows that Stevia, a natural sugar alternative, can limit the formation of plaque and help protect against tooth decay. Next time you are craving a sweet treat, protect your teeth and reach for something sweetened with a sugar alternative.
While there is no harm in enjoying the occasional sweet treat, understanding the harmful effects of high sugar intake can help you enjoy the benefits of healthy teeth for years to come.