Content written and reviewed by Dr. Aaron Law of Millwoods Dental Choice
Many of the foods we encounter every day contain large amounts of sugar — from natural sweets like fruit to sources of added sugar like candy and soft drinks. In fact, the average Canadian eats the equivalent of 40 kilograms of sugar every year, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
Though sweets certainly taste delicious, high sugar consumption can significantly impact a person’s dental health over time. Let’s explore this topic.
Why Consider Eating Less Sugar?
While sugar is a natural component of many foods, excessive sugar intake can increase your risk for cavities and other related oral health problems. Cavities result from the processes that occur when you eat something containing sugar. Sugar that lingers in the mouth acts as food for harmful bacteria that live there. When these bacteria come into contact with sugar, they digest it and produce acids. The acids can then wear down the enamel on your teeth and cause cavities to form.
Depending on how deep into the tooth cavities progress, you might experience pain or sensitivity to cold, heat and sweet foods. Furthermore, large cavities can lead to more serious oral health problems later on.
Considering the damage sugar can do to the teeth, it’s easy to see why many people work to limit their sugar intake.
Tips for Cutting Down on Sugar
In addition to brushing, flossing and rinsing your mouth often and visiting your dentist regularly, eating less sugar can help protect your teeth from damage. Use the following tips to start cutting down on the sugar in your diet:
- Switch out sugary drinks: Soda, fruit juices and other flavored drinks often contain large amounts of added sugars. As liquids, they can wash sugar all over and between your teeth, providing lots of food for bacteria. Consider switching out sugary drinks in your diet for healthier alternatives, such as water or milk.
- Skip the added sugar: Another way to lower your sugar intake is to reduce the amount of sugar you add to your food. When you’re cooking or baking, use a substitute or halve the amount of sugar you add. Additionally, avoid adding extra sugar to cereal, coffee and tea.
- Try a different dessert: Desserts make up a large part of many peoples’ sugar intake. Eat sweets in moderation, and replace traditional desserts with lower-sugar options like fruit, yogurt or dark chocolate.
- Read nutrition labels: You might be surprised to learn how much sugar many processed foods contain. When you’re shopping, read nutritional labels and choose options with the lowest sugar content. And remember that sugar goes by many names, including dextrose, maltose and fructose.
Reducing the amount of sugar you eat can help protect your teeth from cavities and other dental health problems, making the effort worthwhile.
If you have questions about how sugar can affect your teeth, or if you’d like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Law at Millwoods Dental Choice, feel free to reach out to us — we strive to help our patients improve their dental health any way we can.
About Dr. Aaron Law
Dr. Aaron Law graduated from the Faculty of Dentistry at Dalhousie University with his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). He has been practicing since then in both private practice and at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton. Dr. Law provides all general dentistry services as well as Invisalign and sedation options. He is passionate about keeping up to date on the latest advances in the dental industry and looks forward to welcoming patients to an office where their care is his number one priority. In his spare time Dr. Law enjoys playing soccer, skiing and spending time with his family and friends.