Chocolate isn’t only perilous when it comes to an expanding waistband but can affect your teeth too, particularly if you’ve consumed a lot of it this year. Sometimes we forget that our diets really aren’t meant to have too much sugar in them.
In general, most sugars will have a similar effect on your teeth (although how much sugar you eat, the form it takes and the type can vary the dental repercussions). The sugar you eat attracts bacteria that feeds on it to create acids. Although acid in your mouth is essential for controlling that bacteria, if acid levels get either too high or too low then you could run into problems. This is because those acids eat away at your tooth enamel and that’s how you end up with decay.
While, for most of us, overindulging isn’t suddenly going to lead to a mouthful of rotting teeth, when your tooth enamel becomes severely eroded over time it can have some serious impact. For example, you may find that the structure of your mouth changes – the way your upper and lower teeth sit together might become different or your bite may alter. Teeth at the back of your mouth could shrink and you may find that some of them fall out. Leaving decay to take hold in your mouth could mean a lot of extractions become necessary, which can be uncomfortable and upsetting. You may also need gum surgery and extensive dental work to try and correct the damage done and you may also have to pay for dental implants.
So, what can you do? Well, now that the chocolate haze of the Easter period has passed make sure you’re regularly brushing and flossing those teeth (hopefully you were doing this anyway) and you might want to make an appointment to see your dentist for a check up. You could also:
- Take a break from sugary, sweet foods or limit them to once or twice a week
- Avoid soft drinks and choose water or fruit teas instead
- Drink more water – aim for half your weight in ounces each day
- Make sure you have a healthy and balanced diet that includes lean protein, fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy and whole grains
- Try eating smaller meals for more energy and weight loss (‘little and often’ is highly recommended by some nutritionists). Every time you eat, saliva is produced and this can help reduce the effects of acid and wash food from your mouth.