Do you prefer eating chocolates instead of chips? Have you ever noticed if your sugar intake is more than normal because you like reaching out for sugary foods? Well, that’s probably because you have a sweet tooth.
Though it is not only about preference but also about cravings.
Some people generally crave more sugary food because they have a weak sweet taste.
Hence, they gravitate more towards foods that are high in sugars and taste sweeter.
Though, it is unquestionable that a high sugar intake will harm your teeth.
This article discusses how having a sweet tooth can be detrimental to your oral health.
Keep reading to know how you can protect your teeth while enjoying your favorite foods.
What is a Sweet Tooth and How Does it Affect Your Oral Health?
If you consistently crave sweets, you have a sweet tooth.
You may like candies, gummies, biscuits, chocolates and cakes more than sandwiches, vegetables and meat.
You look forward to eating the dessert everywhere you go more than the meal.
Therefore, if you naturally reach out for sugars most of the time, you like sugary foods and crave them.
Well, there is nothing wrong with it.
We all love different kinds of foods and reach out for specific ones.
However, you need to keep your daily sugar intake in check.
Do not exceed 30 grams of sugar.
This is about 7 cubes of sugars for adults.
So even if you crave sugars, you should stay within this limit.
Why is that so?
Because sugars are unhealthy for your entire body but especially for your oral health.
Your mouth contains good and bad bacteria.
The bacteria feed on sugars. Though these are not only present in sweet foods.
For instance, starchy foods like potatoes also metabolize to form sugars.
So carbohydrates will be easily broken down by bacteria.
However, this food gets in contact with your teeth.
Some may even remain stuck in the interdental spaces or in the crevices of teeth.
While they are on your teeth, the bacteria start feeding on the sugars.
This produces acid as the by-product.
The pH of the mouth and the environment becomes acidic.
Though, the most detrimental effect is on the enamel.
As the sugars metabolize and produce acids, the acids attack the enamel.
They slowly erode the tooth enamel and wear it down.
If this continues, soon the enamel thins down enough to reveal the layer beneath known as the dentin.
How Do Sugars Destroy Enamel to Cause Cavities?
The enamel is one of the strongest materials in your body and is made up of 96 percent minerals.
This is because the enamel protects your teeth from bacteria inside the mouth attacking them.
However, after the enamel thinning, the bacteria are free to attack the tooth.
They easily digest the simple carbohydrates present in sugars such as fructose and corn syrup.
As you eat, the bacteria also settles in deep grooves and pits of teeth, especially the back teeth.
So the acid they produce by metabolizing sugars lands right on the tooth enamel and softens it.
As that softens, the bacteria make their way through the tooth structure completely dissolving it.
As a result, the bacteria first decay and then form holes inside.
The acidic environment also facilitates the bacteria to thrive inside.
They can form a bacteria biofilm known as plaque, which is hard to remove.
If you do not remove plaque properly then it can accumulate and cause gum disease and gingivitis.
What Sugary Foods are Worst For Your Health?
Foods and drinks that are high in sugar are generally not good for your teeth.
Soft drinks contain acids and a high amount of sugars, moreover, tea or coffee with sugar isn’t great for oral health either.
Surprisingly, fruit juices also contain a large number of sugars which are actually more than the fruit itself.
Fast and junk food contain starch, as well as desserts, candies, gummies, cakes and chocolates, all contain sugars.
However, some foods are definitely worse than others.
For instance, you may like to eat a bar of chocolate when you are craving something sweet and it is fine to eat it as it does not stick to your teeth.
However, that is not true for all sweet things.
The more the sugar stays in contact with your tooth, the more it is likely to cause them harm.
For example, you suck onto lollipops, lozenges, hard candies and peppermints for a long time inside your mouth.
Therefore, the sugar inside them is constantly in contact with your teeth.
Therefore, the bacteria will start feeding on the sugars while they stay in your mouth.
The longer you keep sucking on them, the greater damage.
There is also another kind of harmful sugary food.
The one that sticks on the crevices of your teeth and accumulates on the grooves and pits.
You may have to remove them from your teeth using a toothpick.
These include sticky candies, caramel and gummies.
Once they stick on your teeth they are likely to stay there for long unless you remove them.
This allows the bacteria already sitting in the pits and grooves to feed on the sugars.
As it feeds on them and releases acids, they land directly on the enamel, soften and thin it.
Therefore, sweet foods that you suck on for a long time and can get stuck inside your teeth are really bad for your teeth.
However, other sugary foods such as cookies and cake are fine to eat because they also contain healthy butter and eggs.
The protein and fat content inside this two help to neutralize the sugar and carbs.
Similarly, dark chocolate is good to eat as well as other chocolates because they smoothly leave the mouth and also contain milk and fats.
So you can fulfill your sweet tooth with good sugary foods and by avoiding the bad ones.
Though, you can also satisfy your cravings while managing to take care of your oral health.
How is that possible? Let’s find out below!
Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth Cravings While Protecting Oral Health
Maintaining Oral Hygiene
Even if you give up on sugary foods or keep eating them, you should maintain good oral hygiene.
This helps to keep the bacteria inside your mouth at bay.
They will not accumulate on your teeth if you remember brushing teeth twice a day and flossing once.
Moreover, you should brush after you have eaten something sugary.
However, wait for at least 30 minutes before you do so.
This is because, sugars will inevitably weaken your enamel, however, brushing immediately vigorously will end up removing the enamel.
Hence, you should only brush after the saliva manages to neutralize the acids.
Also, remember to brush with a fluoride toothpaste that restores the calcium and phosphorus minerals inside your enamel, strengthening it to fight against the bacteria.
Choose Your Sugary Treat Wisely
You should not cut down on all sugars.
In fact, this can lead to binge eating.
What you should do instead is to limit your intake and choose your sugar treats wisely.
Basically, if you have to choose between chocolate and sticky candy, go for chocolate.
Refrain from treats that stay longer in your mouth and are likely to get stuck inside.
Rather go for those that you will easily swallow down.
Moreover, try to avoid sugary foods that are colored as they can stain your teeth.
You can treat yourself once a week with a big dessert.
If you do want to eat more than that, then instead of snacks include them in your meals.
This is because the salivary flow is already high when you are creating a meal.
If you eat something sugary then the saliva will neutralize the acids and sugars quickly.
However, if you eat separately then the bacteria will successfully feed on them.
Hence, only eat sweets at mealtime.
Avoid Processed Foods and Sugary Drinks
Your condiments and sauces may not look sweet, however, they may contain sugars.
Moreover, processed foods are also starchy foods hence, they metabolize into sugars and produce acids.
Furthermore, replace your sugary drinks such as sodas and juices with drinking water.
Water is not only good for your overall health but it also benefits your oral health.
It increases salivary flow and provides your teeth with minerals.
You should not brush your teeth immediately but you can rinse them with water.
Moreover, if you cannot skip drinking juices and other sugary drinks then drink them during meals.
As the salivary flow is high during your meals, these drinks will not affect the teeth as badly as they usually do.
Furthermore, drink them using a straw to limit contact with your teeth.
Hence, you can enjoy your sweet drink without posing harm to your oral health.
It is not bad to have a sweet tooth but indulging in it is not always healthy.
Hence, whenever you feel like eating something sugary, choose wisely and brush your teeth afterward.