removing sugar from your diet affects your oral health

How removing sugar from your diet affects your oral health

You’ve probably heard by now that too much sugar is bad for you.  Ingesting excess sugar causes your body (pancreas and digestive system) to work overtime to break it down and absorb it.  Your blood sugar levels also get taken on a rollercoaster ride, which has a detrimental effect on cellular aging and on your overall health over time.  Other risk factors include elevated blood pressure, weight gain, inflammation, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and of course oral health complications (your poor teeth!).

Long story short – cut it out!  Sugar that is…  Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet is never a bad thing and here are five things you’ll notice in terms of your oral health if you do.

You’ll have fewer issues with tooth decay and cavities

The leading cause of tooth decay comes from the bacteria present in our mouths.  There will always be bacteria living in your mouth but that’s normal.  Through regular brushing, flossing, and good oral care, you should be able to minimize the effects of bad bacteria and your teeth will be healthy.  It’s when the bacteria get out of control that your teeth will start to decay more rapidly (gum disease is a serious issue as well).

Bacteria feed on sugar, and if you have a diet high in the sweet stuff, you’re basically creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.  The bacteria ingest the sugar and produce acid that begins to rot our teeth.  It’s noteworthy that this aspect of oral health has more to do with how long sugar is in your mouth, as opposed to how much you ingest.  This means that slowly sucking on candy for twenty minutes is worse than chewing it up and swallowing it up in say, a minute.  The longer your teeth are coated in sugar, the longer the bacteria have to feed and grow.

Keep sugar to a minimum, eat it quickly and make sure to rinse or brush your teeth after to help keep your mouth sugar-free and oral bacteria starving.

Tooth discoloration will be less of an issue

Sugar is a leading cause of cavities in your teeth, and cavities (if left untreated) will eventually turn your teeth black.  While this isn’t the same type of discoloration as you would get from drinking red wine, coffee, or smoking, it’s extremely unsightly and dangerous to your health.

Cut down on the sugar and rinse/brush regularly after meals and you’ll be in good shape to avoid cavity-induced tooth discoloration.

Your breath will improve

Since sugar is oral bacteria’s favorite food, and bacteria are the main cause of bad breath, it stands to reason that reducing sugar will lead to better-smelling breath.  Another thing, typically when we realize our breath isn’t as fresh as we want it to be, we reach for chewing gum to cover it up.  Chewing gum is a great way to get saliva flowing which rinses your mouth of bacteria, but many brands contain sugar.  That’s why our favorite Hamilton dentist recommends chewing only a sugar-free variety so that you aren’t unknowingly adding to the problem.

Your mouth and body will be healthier

Less sugar means fewer bacteria in your mouth – simple as that.  You’ll be less at risk of tooth decay, your breath will be fresher and your long-term oral health will get a huge boost.  In terms of your overall health, the mouth-and-body connection comes into play.  It’s been shown that tooth decay, gum disease, and excess oral bacteria can lead to issues in other parts of your body.  This includes chronic sore throat, heart disease, higher than normal blood pressure, and more.  Think of it like this, your mouth is the gateway to your body, so it’s a good idea to think before you eat or drink (especially sugary foods and drinks).

What to look out for

Unfortunately, a fact of the matter is that sugar is everywhere and in almost everything we ingest.  It’s in our bread, in fruit – everywhere.  So what can we do?

It’s important to take a health-conscious approach to eat and drink, meaning choosing meal options that include the least amount of sugar.  It’s also important to pay close attention and choose natural sugars whenever possible (think fruit and berries) over refined sugar.  It’s not vital to eliminate sugar completely (that’s pretty much impossible), but limiting it is a great idea.

It’s also important to maintain a rigorous and thorough oral health care routine.  That means brushing at least twice per day, flossing at night, and making sure you see your dentist for a professional cleaning a minimum of twice annually.  On top of your morning and nighttime cleaning, dentists recommend brushing or at least rinse your mouth after eating or drinking, especially if something sugary or staining was consumed.

Oral health and overall well-being are in your hands, so it’s up to you to put the pieces together, make the effort and take control of what you put into your body.  You can do it!

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