Humans are biologically designed to seek out sugar because it provides a quick burst of energy. Thousands of years ago, sweet foods were a scarcity, so this didn’t cause as much of a problem for oral health. Today, however, refined sugars are available just about everywhere, and your dentist has probably told you that you need to be careful about overdoing it on things like candy and cookies for the sake of your smile. Sugar can have significant effects on a person’s smile, but fortunately, there are options available to satisfy your sweet tooth that are less detrimental to the health of your teeth and gums.
Harmful Effects Of Sugar On Your Smile
Before taking steps to substitute healthier options for sweet treats, it can be helpful to understand why your dentist is so concerned about excessive sugar consumption to begin with. Why is sugar so bad for your smile, anyway? The biggest issue is the relationship between simple sugars and the bacteria that live in your mouth and can attack your teeth and gum tissue.
Residual sugars left behind after you enjoy candy, cookies, cake or even sweetened beverages provide an ideal source of nutrition for these bacteria. Then, in their process of digesting those sugars, they create acidic byproducts that wear on enamel, which can result in the development of cavities. These same bacteria also cause gum disease.
Certain sweet treats may be even more dangerous than others. For example, sticky substances, such as caramel or taffy, can linger on the teeth for quite some time, giving the bacteria ample opportunity to feed. Hard candies that dissolve over a period of time have the same effect.
Safe Snacks For Satisfying A Sweet Tooth
So, what’s a patient to do when their sweet tooth is calling? Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives than candy bars and pastries. Fruits are an excellent choice. While they are relatively high in sugar – some more so than others – they also come packaged with fiber to limit the effects of the sugar, as well as other beneficial nutrients. Dark chocolate can also be a good option in limited amounts. Choose a version that is 75 percent cacao or more.
It’s important to remember that your entire body will benefit when you eat less sugar. Oral health and overall health are closely linked, and sugar intake has been found to contribute to numerous health problems.
Want to learn more about maintaining the healthiest diet for your teeth? Talk to our dentist, Dr. Michael Howl, at your next checkup for suggestions of nutritious snacks with a touch of sweetness.