Family Dentist in Troy Describes the Impact of Refined Sugar on Healthy Teeth

Written by Dr. Bentley on Mar 17, 2015

Achieving great dental health is not complicated, but it does require a commitment on your part. Diligent attention to your oral health between visits to the Family Dentist in Troy pave the way for a lifetime of healthy teeth and uncomplicated dental care.

Beware of Refined Sugar

One of the least popular pieces of advice dentists give is to cut down on sweets, especially between meals. We understand that everyone enjoys a sweet treat now and then, but there’s no disputing the fact that the frequency of sugar consumption contributes to tooth decay. The big problem isn’t the sugars that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, but rather the refined sugars added to foods to sweeten them.

The World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both advise consuming no more than 50 grams (about ten teaspoons) of sugar a day. Unfortunately, Americans consume around 140 pounds per capita of refined sugars like table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This is more than three times the recommended amount!

How Sugar Affects Your Oral Health 

The connection between sugar and tooth decay begins with bacteria that ferments sugar present in the mouth after eating. This creates high levels of acid, which causes the mineral content of tooth enamel to soften and erode (a process called demineralization) and makes the teeth more susceptible to decay. 

Saliva naturally neutralizes acid, but it takes about thirty minutes to bring the mouth’s pH to a normal level. Saliva can’t keep up if sugars are continually present from constant snacking or sipping on soft drinks for long periods.

You can reduce the sugar-decay connection with a few dietary changes:

  • Limit your intake of sugar-added foods and beverages to no more than recommended levels.
  • Consume sweets and soft drinks only at meal times.
  • Replace sugar-added foods with fresh fruits and vegetables and foods that inhibit the fermentation process (like cheese or black and green teas)
  • Consider using mints or chewing gum products sweetened with xylitol, a natural alcohol-based sugar that inhibits bacterial growth.
  • Last but not least, practice good oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing and see your dentist regularly.

Please Call Us for an Appointment

These simple practices, along with limits on refined sugar in your diet, will go a long way toward keeping your teeth and mouth healthy and cavity-free. If you would like more information on the relationship of sugar and dental disease, contact the Family Dentist in Troy or schedule an appointment for a consultation.