We all know that sugar is bad for our teeth, but it can be hard to give up sugar when it’s so accessible. Sodas, candy, chewing gum, and even juice are all readily available. To help you reduce sugar, Dr. Hamby, a leading Fuquay Varina dentist, is sharing 6 sugar-free swaps so you can minimize exposure to your teeth.
Why Is Sugar So Bad For Your Teeth?
Sugar itself isn’t causing tooth decay and cavities, but it definitely sets off a chain reaction with tooth decay as the end result. Our mouths are naturally full of bacteria, and while brushing and flossing reduce it, it’s almost impossible to get rid of all of it. Then, food particles, especially sugar, adhere to the surface of our teeth and gums, where bacteria feed on the sugar. When this happens, they release acids that break down tooth enamel, leading to cavities, tooth decay, and even gum disease.
6 Simple Sugar-Free Swaps
Now that you know why you need to reduce sugar, let’s look at some simple ways to do so.
Sugar-Free Gum for Sugared Gum or Hard Candy
Gum and hard candy with sugar are especially bad for your teeth as they are essentially bathing your mouth in sugar, continually exposing your teeth, and feeding bacteria. Instead, make the switch to sugar-free gum that can actually improve dental health by increasing saliva production that rinses away food particles and debris to reduce the loss of minerals in your enamel.
Whole Wheat Bread for White Bread and Refined Starches
Carbohydrates like bread and potatoes break down into simple sugar, and white bread is one of the worst. Not only does it have little nutritional benefit, but from a dental perspective, it breaks down quickly and is sticky, thus, it adheres to the surfaces of your teeth and gums, again, feeding bacteria and leading to increased acid exposure. Whole wheat bread is a better option because it’s slower to break down, is lower in sugar, and has more nutritional benefits so you get more bang for your buck, so to speak.
Flavored Sparkling Water for Soda and Juice
Soda and fruit juice are packed with sugar, and because they’re often sipped, they are rinsing your teeth in sugar as gum and candy do. Also, juice and sodas are high in acid which can break down and weaken tooth enamel similarly to the acids produced by dental bacteria. Instead, make the switch to flavored sparkling water like La Croix (or your preferred brand) as it’s free of sugar and much lower in acids while still having a pleasantly sweet flavor.
Oatmeal for Cereal or Baked Goods
While cereal with milk is not a bad way to start your day, it’s not ideal if it’s a high sugar option, and baked goods blend lots of sugar with simple refined flour that breaks down into more sugar. Instead, make the switch to oatmeal for your morning start – adding a handful of blueberries or strawberries, 1/4 of a cup of unsweetened applesauce with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, or stir a spoonful of peanut butter in for protein and flavor. Either way, you’re getting a more nutritionally dense breakfast that is significantly better for your teeth than Lucky Charms or a donut.
Add Stevia to Your Coffee Instead of Sugar
If you love sweetened coffee, it may be time to try Stevia, a natural, plant-based sweetener that is much better on your teeth as there are no sugar or tooth-damaging ingredients. It’s significantly sweeter than table sugar so just a drop or two may provide the same sweetness as a teaspoon of sugar.
Get Your Crunch from Almonds or Apples Instead of Cookies or Candy
Cookies and hard candy can provide a satisfying crunch, but again…too much sugar! Instead, almonds or apples both lend a satisfying, post-meal crunchy factor as well as plenty of vitamins and nutrients. From a dental perspective, both these items “scrub” the teeth as you chew them, ridding your teeth of particles and increasing saliva production.
Schedule a Checkup and Dental Cleaning Today
In addition to watching sugar, brushing regularly, and flossing daily, it’s important to get regular teeth cleanings and checkups to ensure your teeth are healthy and bright. To schedule an appointment, call us at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below to connect with our Fuquay Varina dental office.