Everyone knows consuming too much sugar will cause damage to your teeth, not to mention adding to your waistline.
Reducing sugar in your diet is not only beneficial to your teeth but to your overall health. Sugar-free drinks may seem like the best way to satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping your calorie consumption low – but are sugar-free drinks healthier for your teeth?
What is so bad about sugar?
Your mouth is a host for both good and bad bacteria. When you consume sugary meals, the bad bacteria feed on the sugar. As bacteria digest sugar, the process produces plaque. Plaque is a sticky, colourless, acidic film that covers your teeth. If plaque is not removed by saliva or brushing, it causes erosion of tooth enamel.
This erosion occurs when an acid attack results in the irreversible demineralization of tooth enamel, the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth. Each acid attack can last up to 20 minutes. Frequently snacking or drinking throughout the day will cause the process to keep repeating, thereby prolonging the attack on your teeth.
This wearing away of enamel leaves the softer dentin underneath exposed, making teeth more susceptible to cavities. Worn enamel can also increase your teeth’s sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. If untreated, the soft tissue inside your teeth, known as the pulp, can become infected. If the decay becomes excessive, you may develop an infection of the gum and even risk losing your teeth.
Is sugar-free better?
Sugar-free drinks contain artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes that interact with your taste buds to provide a sweet taste similar to sugar but with far fewer calories. While sugar-free drinks sound like the best of both worlds, there are some things to consider. Sugar-free drinks have additives that can make them acidic. Though they are not feeding the decay-causing bacteria, they are still creating an acidic environment that causes dental erosion.
Most fizzy, sugar-free drinks are carbonated using phosphoric acid. Even carbonated water, with no sugar or artificial sweetener added, contains carbon dioxide, which turns into carbonic acid.
Healthy habits for your teeth
Completely avoiding sugar is not realistic. Sugar is naturally present in most of the foods we eat, including fruits. The key to maintaining your oral health is to create healthy habits surrounding the consumption of sugar.
Pay attention to the ingredients listed on nutritional labels. Look out for acidic additives such as citric acid (ingredient number 330), carbon dioxide, and phosphoric acid (ingredient number 338).
Avoid prolonged and regular snacking on sugary and/or acidic foods and sugar-free drinks that may lead to extended periods of acid attacks on your teeth. Remember, the longer teeth are exposed to an acidic environment, the faster the rate of decay.
If you must have sugar-free drinks, try to do so only at mealtime. Drinking fluoridated water is a great way of strengthening tooth enamel. If it is not available, drinking plain water is preferred instead of sugar-free drinks. You can try adding flavour to your water with mint leaves or cucumber slices for a refreshing twist.
Avoid brushing right after an acidic meal or drink, as tooth enamel will be in a weakened state. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait an hour before brushing.
Some sugar-free sweeteners such as Xylitol have been proven to reduce tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum with Xylitol cleans your teeth and increases saliva production to help rinse plaque from teeth.
Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste helps to limit bacterial growth. Flossing at least once a day removes any particles of food that may be lingering between tight spaces in your teeth. Last but certainly not least, maintaining regular visits and cleanings with your dentist will ensure early detection and treatment of dental issues.
Dental services in Surrey
Developing healthy eating habits, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular visits with your dentist are key to good oral health. If you need a dentist in Surrey, contact us at Newton Village Dental Clinic. Our experienced and friendly dental professionals are committed to helping you achieve a healthy, beautiful smile.
Give us a call today.