It’s hard to deny the appeal of sugary snacks. They’re brightly colored, smacking of sweetness, and saturated with fun flavors. Like most people, you probably already know the perils of sugar as it relates to your physical health, especially your weight. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a family dentist in Polk City, IA, reminds patients that most sweet snacks don’t just increase the risk for obesity and heart disease, but also for tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Sugar: Sneakier Than You Think
One of the greatest challenges in policing sugar intake is the fact that sugar is so sneaky! You might scan the ingredients list for the word “sugar,” but then you’ve overlooked several other sources of sugar, such as sucrose, fructose, and lactose Starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods pose similar risks. When you snack on starches, enzymes in your saliva begin to break down the carbohydrates into sugar, ravaging your teeth and increasing your risk of developing periodontal disease.
As icky as this may seem, your mouth is home to millions of bacteria. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash all help reduce the bacteria present, but even a perfectly clean mouth isn’t entirely devoid of germs. When you introduce sugary or starchy food into your mouth, you’re essentially serving up a smorgasbord for bacteria, which consume sugar and convert it to acids. Tooth enamel may be the hardest substance in your body, but it’s no match for the destructive effects of these acids. As the enamel is slowly eaten away, it becomes less effective at warding off cavities and tooth decay. So it begins.
What Is Smart Snacking, and Why Does It Help?
Never put any food into your body without first considering its sugar content. Anything loaded with sugar is best left in the vending machine. Next, consider the texture of the food and how this affects your teeth. For example, chewy, gooey options are particularly damaging to teeth because they cling to the surface of your teeth and invade every hidden nook and cranny within your mouth. The longer they remain in your mouth, the more destructive they become.
Smart snacking also requires you to consider the time and frequency of your meals. For example, it’s better to limit sweets to a single serving after a meal rather than nursing a sack of candy throughout the day. Bacteria in your mouth form acid with every bite and sip of sugary substances, the effects of which persevere for up to 20 minutes. By constantly introducing more sugar into your mouth, you subject your teeth to a barrage of acidic assaults. Whether you eat sugar as a snack or after a meal, it’s best to brush your teeth immediately afterward to minimize damage.
Questions about protecting against cavities in Polk City, IA? To learn more about preventive dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Alleman, Ames, Ankeny, Grimes, West Des Moines, and the surrounding communities. For the latest news and insights from our practice, follow us on Facebook.