You’ve read the headlines: we’re eating too much sugar, and it’s bad for our health. Each new year offers us a chance to reflect on our lives, the steps we’ve taken, and the habits we’ve formed; a chance for reevaluation and renewal. This year, for your New Year’s resolution, I recommend cutting down on the amount of sugar you’re consuming; chances are, if you’re reading this, there’s too much sugar in your diet (that’s the case for most Canadians).
You probably already know that sugar affects your oral health, but knowing how it can harm your teeth might motivate you to make a change. Basically, there’s a bunch of different bacteria in your mouth, and a lot of them like to eat sugar. When they do, they excrete acid, and that acid wears away at the protective enamel of your teeth. Over time, the bacteria and their acid make a hole, and now you have a cavity. Our teeth remineralize naturally, shoring up the enamel defenses against bacteria, but when you’re consuming too much sugar the demineralization process can happen faster than can be reversed. Brushing at least twice a day can help; fluoride is a huge asset to the remineralization process.
Good oral care is not enough, though, and that’s why you need to cut some sugar out of your diet. A good New Year’s resolution doesn’t change your life too drastically; when it does, you can become discouraged, and not follow through on your plans. Instead, vow to yourself that you’ll be mindful of, and reduce, your sugar intake. The first step is being mindful, which means learning about where the sugar you’re consuming comes from. One thing that’s important to remember is that carbs will break down into sugar, so pasta and bread should be counted as part of your daily sugar intake. Fruit juices may seem healthy, but there’s a large amount of sugar in them. Sugary treats like pop and candy are particularly easy to limit, because they shouldn’t be a part of your regular diet anyway. Opt to drink water instead of fruit juice, and take your tea and coffee without added sugar.
Snacks like granola bars and dried fruit may be healthier than a bag of chips, but they’re still full of sugar; they also stick to your teeth. If you can, consume these types of foods around meal time; when you’re salivating more, the effects of sugar are less pronounced, because saliva helps remineralize the teeth. I love a good snack – you might call me a grazer – so eating snacks around meal time can be difficult. That’s why, if you’re like me, it’s best to choose snacks that are low in sugar, like nuts, cheeses and raw vegetables; not only will it help keep sugar levels down, but all of the above are important for a well-balanced diet!
Your Winnipeg dental office, Markham Dental, is committed to helping you find the right balance of health and personal satisfaction; we can give you plenty of tips on cutting down the sugar and sticking with your resolution. Remember that high sugar intake affects the rest of your body, not just your teeth, so cutting it down is going to do you a lot of good. You can do it; we can help.