Sugar is often seen as a guilty pleasure, but it’s not just a matter of calorie counting. The consumption of hidden sugars in our food can significantly impact our oral health. While we all know that chocolate, soft drinks, and desserts contain high sugar levels, many other foods contain hidden sugars, which can be just as damaging to our teeth. You will find sugar in some surprising places, from sauces to breakfast cereals and fruit juices. In this blog, we’ll explore the hidden sources of sugar in our food and discuss the impact these sugars have on our oral health, including the development of tooth decay and gum disease.
“Healthy Foods” with Hidden Sugars
Many foods marketed as “healthy” or “natural” can contain hidden sugars that can contribute to tooth decay and overall health problems if consumed in excess.While sugar is naturally present in many fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, some foods are surprisingly high in added sugars. These added sugars can come in many forms, including fructose, glucose, corn syrup, and honey, to name a few.
Here are some common healthy foods that can contain hidden sugars:
Many yogurt products, especially flavoured varieties, can contain high amounts of added sugar. Check the ingredient list and opt for plain yogurt, which is lower in sugar, and add fresh fruit for flavour instead.
These convenient snacks are often high in sugar, with some brands containing as much sugar as chocolate bars.
While juice can be a good source of vitamins, it is also high in sugar. Stick to 100% fruit juice and limit your consumption.
These drinks are marketed to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes during exercise but can be high in added sugars. Opt for water, or choose a sports drink with no added sugars.
How Sugar Effects Your Dental Health
A staple ingredient in many of our favourite foods and drinks is sugar. It’s the primary culprit behind tooth decay, and it can lead to a host of oral health problems if consumed in excess.
The most well-known effect of sugar on our dental health is tooth decay. When we consume sugar, the bacteria in our mouths feed on it and produce acid as a by-product.
The acid erodes the enamel, leading to cavities. The longer the sugar stays in contact with our teeth, the more damage it causes. To protect yourself from decay, brush and floss regularly to remove any leftover sugar.
Sugar doesn’t just affect our teeth; it can also lead to gum disease. The acid produced by the bacteria in our mouths can irritate and inflame the gums, leading to gum disease.
Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious oral health issues when left untreated.
Stain and Discolouration
Sugar can also cause discolouration and staining. Dark-coloured drinks like coffee, tea, and red wine contain pigments that can cling to our teeth and leave staining.
Sugary drinks like soda and often thought of healthy juices, can leave behind a sticky residue that attracts stains and discolouration.
Get Sugar Smart & Protect Your Smile
With the rise of sugary drinks and snacks in our diets, it has never been more essential to be mindful of the impact of hidden sugar on your dental health. By adopting a sugar-smart lifestyle, people can enjoy better oral health and a healthier, brighter smile for many years, especially when choosing to use these strategies to combat sugar:
Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is essential for maintaining good oral health. It rinses away food particles and neutralises the acid in the mouth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. It also helps keep the mouth hydrated, improving saliva flow and reducing the risk of a dry mouth.
Eat a Balance Diet
Eating a balanced diet is vital to maintaining good dental health. A diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide the vitamins and minerals needed for strong teeth and gums.
Limiting the amount of sugary and acidic foods in your diet will help you protect yourself against the risk of tooth decay and the erosion of enamel on your teeth.
Visit Your Family Dentist For Preventive Care
Visiting your family dentist for preventive care is essential in maintaining good oral health and protecting your teeth against hidden sugars. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can help to prevent problems such as tooth decay and gum disease and detect any issues early when they are easiest to treat.
Regularly Clean & Floss
Cleaning and flossing are crucial to protecting against hidden sugars. When sugar stays on the teeth for extended periods, it can contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day can help remove food particles and plaque, harbouring sugar and bacteria, from your teeth and gums.
Check for Hidden Sugar on Food Labels
Many processed and packaged foods contain added sugars listed under various names, such as corn syrup, glucose, fructose, molasses, sweeteners and more. They can make it difficult to determine the actual sugar content of a food.
When shopping for food, check the ingredient list and the nutrition facts panel on the food label. Look for the total amount of sugars listed and consider the serving size. Foods that contain less than 5 grams of sugar per serving are considered low in sugar, while those with more than 20 grams of sugar per serving are considered high.
In addition to checking the food label, you can also limit your intake of processed and packaged foods, which are often high in sugar and low in nutrients. Instead, focus on eating a diet rich in whole, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. By being vigilant about checking food labels and making healthier food choices, you can help to protect yourself from the harmful effects of hidden sugars.
Book Online For A Dental Check-up
Take control of your oral health today by booking an appointment for a dental check-up. Regular dental check-ups are essential to protecting your teeth and gums from decay and disease and detecting any early issues caused by hidden sugar intake.