Consuming too much sugar affects more than just your weight. Sugar contributes to plaque formation and tooth decay, resulting in tooth and bone loss. Despite these hazards, manufacturers continue to produce foods loaded with sugar. If you do not stop to check the nutritional information for every item you purchase, there’s a good chance that your pantry is stocked with shocking amounts of sugary foods. Dr. Ryan Hussong, a general dentist in Polk City, IA shares the latest on sugar content in popular foods and the effects on your oral health.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, advises against eating or drinking products with 15 grams of sugar or greater. Anything that falls in that category should be viewed as a dessert and therefore restricted. One way to look at it is that one sugar packet contains the equivalent of four grams of sugar. That 20-ounce bottle of soda you snagged from the vending machines? It contains roughly the same amount of sugar as 16 packets of sugar. Fresh fruit contains significant amounts of natural sugar, but don’t let the word “natural” fool you. Any type of sugar can potentially cause damage.
When you consume sugar, you fuel the bacteria growing in your mouth and on your teeth. The bacteria mix with sugar and produce acid, which erodes your tooth enamel. It’s not just a matter of limiting sugar intake. You should also be wary of carbohydrates and starches, which break down into sugar upon contact with your saliva. When you read nutritional labels, be on the lookout for sugary buzzwords, such as fructose, lactose, and corn syrup.
What Steps Should You Take to Safeguard Teeth Against Sugar?
If you do eat a meal with high sugar content, brush your teeth immediately afterward. The sooner you remove all traces of sugar from your mouth, the less likely you are to fuel the formation of plaque. An exception, cautions Dr. Hussong, is after consuming highly acidic beverages, such as soda or energy drinks—both of which are best avoided. Acid in these liquids immediately attacks tooth enamel, weakening it. Brushing your teeth immediately could cause further damage to your acid-weakened tooth enamel. Wait half an hour before brushing. If you cannot brush your teeth, rinse your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum. Regular checkups at Cornerstone Dental will enable you to take action before you fall victim to gum disease and cavities.
By the way, you might want to avoid these beverages:
- 20-ounce serving of Vitamin Water: 8 sugar packets
- 16-ounce serving of Snapple Raspberry Iced Tea: 12 sugar packets
- 16-ounce serving of Starbucks vanilla Frappuccino: 14.5 sugar packets
- Super Big Gulp of Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, or Sprite from 7-Eleven: 32 sugar packets
Could your sugar habit be causing cavities? To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hussong, or to request more information about our services, contact Cornerstone Dental at 515-984-6001. We serve patients living in Alleman, Ankeny, Bondurant, and surrounding communities. You can also find us on Facebook.