The American Health Association (AHA) suggests that adults limit their added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories or 24 grams per day for women and no more than 150 calories or 36 grams per day for men. This may sound reasonable enough, but unfortunately, many people consume much more sugar throughout the day than they realize.
American adults currently consume about 77 grams of sugar per day – more than three times the recommended daily amount for women. You likely already know that having a diet high in sugar can put you at a higher risk of developing dental caries, commonly known as cavities. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your oral health and reduce your sugar intake.
Does Sugar Cause Cavities?
Sugary soft drinks and juice are often the main culprits behind a sugar-heavy diet. Having a glass of juice in the morning may seem harmless. But the truth is, even one glass of apple juice is often enough to put you over your entire daily limit for added sugar. Sugar itself is not the cause of cavities. Instead, think of sugar as the ‘food’ that harmful bacteria need to survive on your teeth and gums. When the bacteria eat this sugar, they produce acid. This acid can have damaging effects, ultimately causing cavities, tooth decay, and even gum disease.
The easiest solution to keep harmful bacteria at bay is brushing twice per day and flossing regularly. However, if you want to minimize your chances of developing cavities in the future, it’s best to eliminate any excess or unnecessary sugar in your diet.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Many people assume that reducing your sugar intake is very difficult, especially given the high amounts of sugar often packed into popular drinks and snack foods. The good news is, there are changes you can make that will make a big difference without requiring a ton of effort. Trading soda for water or choosing unsweetened tea over a sugary energy drink will help tremendously. Flavored sparkling water and diluted juices (juice and water) are also great alternatives with little to no sugar.
Essentially, some foods create a favorable environment for tooth decay, while others can help fight plaque buildup and support healthy teeth and gums. If you’re unsure which foods to incorporate into your diet, the following table may help you make better choices:
|Foods High in Sugar||Healthier Alternatives|
|Sticky candies and sweets (lollipops, caramels, cough drops that have refined sugar)||Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to help keep your teeth and gums clean (apples, pears, avocados, carrots, broccoli)|
|Starchy foods that can get stuck in your mouth (soft bread, chips, sugary popcorn)||Dairy products to help rebuild tooth enamel (cheese, milk, plain yogurt)|
|Sugary soft drinks (soda, energy drinks, juice)||Foods and beverages with fluoride (some tap water, powdered juices, and dehydrated soups)|
Contact Your Local Dentist
At GVR Dental and Orthodontics, we are committed to educating our patients and their families on how to reduce their risk of cavities and improve their oral health. Although cutting back on sugar and brushing twice per day is important, visiting a dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams is also essential.
If you’re searching for a new dentist, contact us today and pay only $59 for your first cleaning, exam, and digital x-rays.