Did You Know That Some Sugars Actually Protect Your Teeth?
Many foods and drinks are available today that have a lot of sugar in them. Some of them use artificial sweeteners to try and reduce the calories. There are different kinds of sugar used in many products, but the truth is that many sugar substitutes can still damage your teeth. The good news is that some will not.
Why Sugar and Teeth Do Not Mix
There are many types of bacteria in your mouth. While most of it is good and harmless, a few types are very harmful. They are harmful because when this certain kinds of bacteria come in contact with sugars and carbohydrates, it multiplies. The bad part is that it produces acid at the same time.
It is these same bacteria that causes cavities and erodes the enamel on your teeth. The acid creates pits and holes in the enamel, eventually enabling sugars, acids, and various spices to come into contact with the nerves in your teeth. This makes them very sensitive.
The same bad bacteria are also responsible for gingivitis and periodontitis. When you consume a lot of sugar, and if you do not brush and floss regularly, before long you will have problems with your gums – as well as with your teeth. With severe periodontitis, it can cause you to develop loose teeth, and some may even fall out.
Effects of Sugar on Teeth
Many products today contain more sugar then people realize – especially when you add it together. There are often different kinds of sugar and they are usually listed separately. Since people do not recognize all types of sugar as being sugar, they do not see the total amount of calories that may be in a product.
Eating or drinking sugary foods is only ensuring that you are feeding the acid-producing bacteria all day long. This is especially true if you are sipping on specialty coffees, teas, or fruit juices. Many sodas have as much as nine teaspoons of sugar in a single can. With each sip of sugar, the bacteria will produce acid for the next 20 minutes.
Several artificial sugar products are made from real sugar, but the calories are reduced. Even with reduced calories, they can still cause the bad bacteria to grow and produce acid.
Watch Out for the Acid
Another problem that is found in many foods and drinks that will harm your teeth is the acid. Not only do they contain sugar, such as a soda or fruit juice, but they also contain acid. Diet sodas, although they may have less sugar or a different kind, may even have more acid in them – and it is a different kind of acid than what the bacteria produce. This means that you are actually speeding up the process of decay on your teeth with these drinks.
This natural product is said to be many times sweeter than sugar. It is widely sold in grocery stores, and can be used in cooking or added directly. The problem with it is that the FDA does not yet recognize it as a safe product. They claim that not enough testing has been conducted to make that determination.
Some new artificial sweeteners are called sugar alcohols. This is a rather strange classification since they are not sugar or alcohol. The names of these sugar alcohols that you will find on products are sorbitol, xylitol, maltitol, mannitol, and sucralose. Different ones will taste more or less like real sugar, and they do have fewer calories.
Xylitol is a natural sugar that is found in some trees, vegetables, and fruit. It is sweet. The advantage of this sugar is that it does not promote cavities, which makes it the healthiest sweetener. The bad bacteria that cause cavities cannot feed on it, so no acid will be produced when you consume it. In fact, it also helps prevent the bad bacteria from clinging to your teeth, which means it has an anti-cariogenic quality – it helps fight cavities.
Protecting Your Teeth
In order to make your teeth last longer, it is necessary to protect your teeth from the harmful effects of the acid when you consume sugar. There are several ways to do this.
Rinse your mouth with water – after eating or drinking sugary foods, rinse your mouth out with water right afterward.
Avoid dry mouth – your saliva helps to control the bad bacteria and it helps to wash away the sugar from your teeth. Some chewing gum is made with xylitol, which is safe to help with this problem.
Eat healthy – when you eat with nutrition in mind, you supply your teeth with the nutrients needed to keep your enamel strong. It also helps keep the immune system in your gums strong, enabling them to resist gum disease better.
Reduce foods with added sugars – many foods have additional sugars added to enhance their flavor. Cutting back can also help your overall health. Drink more water.
While cutting back on sugar can help your teeth from eroding as fast, you need to also know that you cannot regrow tooth enamel. This means you still may need dental work to restore any previous damage.
If you live in the Carrollton, TX or Grapevine, TX areas, you can get dental care and treatment from Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified Periodontist who can help you. He also provides cosmetic dentistry. For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can call his office today at (817) 756-8578.