Debunking the common myths surrounding sugar and your teeth

Are you planning on cutting down on your sugar intake to help improve your dental hygiene? It’s well documented that sugar is bad for our teeth and health in general, but there are lots of common myths surrounding good and bad sugars. In this blog, we’ll debunk some of the common myths and separate the facts from the fiction.

Sugar-free and diet drinks are fine

While drinks such as Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi and other so-called sugar-free alternatives may sound like the ideal solution to enjoy your favourite carbonated drink guilt-free the reality is that these could actually be worse for your teeth. The trouble is that many of the so-called diet or sugar-free drinks contain high levels of phosphoric, citric or tartaric acids which all cause damage to the enamel in your teeth. According to research carried out by the University of Michigan over a two week period, Diet Coke caused slightly more damage to tooth enamel compared to standard Coke.

If you want to stick to drinks that do little or no damage to your teeth, then water is the best option. Tea and coffee are also a good choice for those looking for a caffeine hit without the associated damage to your teeth enamel, although over time both can cause staining of your teeth.

Spreading sugar intake is better for you

Many people wrongly assume that spreading small sugary treats throughout the day is better than having a single large helping. From a purely dental point of view snacking on sugary treats is far worse than having a big dessert once a day. Every time you eat sugary food the bacteria in your mouth will create acid that will eat away at your teeth’s enamel, this effect normally lasts up to 1 hour from eating or drinking sugary food and drinks. So, snacking throughout the day is much worse from a dental point of view as there will be a longer build-up of acid.

Brush your teeth immediately after sugar

For the most part, this is true with one big caveat. Brushing your teeth after drinking food and drinks that are high in acid can actually do more harm than good. Citrus fruits are some of the worst offenders and should be limited to being eaten at mealtimes. As mentioned previously diet drinks are also packed full of acids and should be avoided where possible. Avoid brushing your teeth for 1 hour after eating or drinking food or drink with high acidity levels to allow the pH levels in your mouth to return to normal.

You should completely cut out sugar

Cutting out sugar may seem like the ideal solution for improving our dental health, but it isn’t great from a holistic health point of view. Instead, focus on cutting down on refined sugars such as those in fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes and other items. Natural foods that contain sugars such as fructose and lactose are also packed full of other important nutrients. The sugars in these natural foods are generally broken down in the stomach instead of the mouth.

Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay

There is not one single substance that is the root cause of tooth decay. Foods that contain carbohydrates can cause plaque to form and build up on your teeth. Alcohol is also another common culprit when it comes to causing decay and is linked with poor oral health. As well as containing a surprising amount of refined sugar, alcohol leads to the build-up of plaque and bacteria and increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

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