Refined sugar is found in all types of foods and beverages. From sodas and alcohol to candies, cookies, and crackers, sweets and starches are two of the most common culprits linked to cavities. But what about sugar substitutes? When making your morning cup of coffee or baking a pie for a special event, can these “healthier” alternatives keep your pearly whites safe from decay? Read on to hear from a dentist who sheds light on the topic.
The Truth About Sugar
Your mouth contains a vast number of bacteria, both good and bad. Knowing what fuels the unhealthy kind can help you choose food options that will minimize your risk for cavities. But sometimes, you may not realize that the foods you’re consuming contain high levels of refined sugar. Everything from bread to fruit snacks can wreak havoc on more than just your waistline. Your teeth can be negatively impacted too. Bad oral bacteria love to feed on sugar, thus, releasing harmful acids that eat away at your tooth enamel. In the end, you’re left with damaged teeth that require dental fillings or crowns.
Are Sugar Substitutes Just as Bad?
If you’re feeling helpless learning that some of your favorite foods may be the reason for your dental caries, you may be surprised to learn that making a simple swap to artificial sweeteners can help. Although they aren’t the healthiest option, they do not cause as much harmful acid to be generated as those foods and beverages that contain refined sugar.
One of the most beneficial sugar substitutes is Xylitol. In fact, it is recommended by most dentists, and you can find it in a lot of sugar-free gum products. By ingesting healthy amounts of Xylitol, you can reduce your risk of tooth decay and allow for good oral bacteria to dominate your oral cavity. Also, by chewing sugar-free gum, you can stimulate your salivary glands, which help to flush out any particles that might try to adhere to your tooth enamel and cause cavities.
But just like refined sugar, everything must be consumed in moderation. Too much of anything can ultimately be bad for your smile, which is why you shouldn’t rely heavily on sugar substitutes. If you drink coffee in the mornings, try to avoid adding any cream or other additives. The natural components found in roasted coffee beans can actually work to prevent dental caries.
Whether it’s pies, bread, or a hot cup of tea, try to steer clear of regular sugar and instead, reach for a natural/healthier alternative like applesauce or honey. If you cannot fathom the thought of baking or consuming something without sugar, opt for the artificial kind so that you can feel more confident in better protecting your smile.
About the Authors
Dr. Thomas Meschke and Dr. Aaron Swingdorf are two trusted dentists who readily provide patients with preventive services to mitigate serious oral health issues. Encouraging individuals to practice good oral hygiene at home, it often takes more than brushing and flossing to keep cavities at bay. This is why they provide tips and suggestions to build better eating habits so that the foods and beverages consumed will help, not hinder, a person’s smile. Contact us at (952) 448-4151 or visit our website to learn more.
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