Curb Your Sugar Intake During the Holidays

Sugar and teeth

Halloween is coming up, with Thanksgiving and Christmas soon to follow. The amount of sugar that children and adults alike consume on these holidays and the weeks surrounding them can be alarming. That sugar intake can lead to tooth decay, gum issues and more in the fall and winter months. Learn why you should curb your sugar intake to avoid oral health issues so you can enjoy your holiday season!

Not All Sugar Sources Are the Same

There are three categories of sugars in the diet to consider. Some of them are better for you than others. Consider the following:

Natural sugars are present in fruit (as fructose) and in dairy products (as lactose). These sugars are present in fruit, milk & cheese.  These sugars offer essential nutrients to the body and help maintain good health.

Added sugars are usually sugars and syrups that are added to food or drinks by the manufacturer or chef during cooking, preparation, and manufacturing of food for taste. These sugars are found in soft drinks, energy drinks, cereals, bread, pastries, chocolate, ice cream, alcohol etc. Added sugars offer no essential nutrients to the body and add extra, harmful calories.

Free sugars are added sugars present in honey, syrups and fruit juices. These sugars can be found in fruit juice, sugar syrups, and honey or added to coffee and tea. Free sugars provide no essential nutrients to the body and add extra calories which, in turn, harm the body.

Why Should You Monitor Your Sugar Intake?

So, just how does sugar impact the health of your smile?  When it comes to your teeth, it isn’t as much the amount of sugar you are consuming but how often you consume it. And, what you do after you consume it. Sugar that is consumed in the form of juices or sodas slips between your teeth into areas that can only be cleaned with a good flossing. Sometimes, even then, sugars can be hard to remove.  While regular oral hygiene helps, those hard-to-reach sugars can augment the growth of hungry bacteria causing tooth decay and cavities. Foods high in sugar deposit large amounts of sugar residue on your teeth that don’t dissolve easily with your natural saliva production. Sugars left on your teeth lead to bacteria growth and harm tooth enamel.

Gum Disease and its Relationship with Diabetes

“Serious gum disease may have the potential to affect blood glucose control and contribute to the progression of diabetes,” reports the American Diabetes Association. “For the nearly 30 million Americans who have diabetes, many may be surprised to learn about an unexpected complication associated with this condition. Research shows that there is an increased prevalence of gum disease among those with diabetes, adding serious gum disease to the list of other complications associated with diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.”

Gum disease is one of the most common reasons for tooth loss. But, beyond this, gum disease can affect your total body wellness. Gum disease bacteria and infections that enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body have been linked to heart disease and other ailments.

Eat Less Sugar and Eat Sugar Less Often

The National Institutes of Health have asked dentists to communicate to their patients to: “Eat less sugar and eat sugar less often.” One big source of sugar in the American diet is found in  the consumption of commercial beverages. Using straws when drinking sodas can help reduce cavities from forming since the drink can be directly swallowed with minimal contact with teeth.

Instead, offer your household more dairy foods rich in calcium and phosphate–especially when taking in acidic foods and beverages. Rinse your mouth with water to minimize residual acidic liquid in the mouth following drinking sodas, sports drinks or eating acidic foods.

“Eat Less Sugar and Eat Sugar Less Often”.

Call Dr. Niles for a Consultation

The Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health states that good oral health is integral to general health. Brushing and flossing regularly, along with getting in-office checkups are key to keeping your mouth and body healthy. Call our office for a consultation on the current health of your smile and how to preserve it.  Dr. Niles is a family dentist in Niwot, Colorado, with convenient access to the communities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville.  Niles Family Dentistry offers state-of-the-art family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry.  Call for your appointment today at (720) 744-0001. We look forward to meeting you and your family!

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Ashley Niles

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