The Top Six Suggestions to Safeguard Your Smile During the Sugar-Filled Holidays

Did you know that 20 billion bacteria inside your mouth love sugar as much as you do!?

Twenty billion with a "b". Let that sink in for a second. Americans are buzzed with a sugar addiction. Research shows that we get, on average, about 13% of our daily calories from added processed sugars — the amount equal to a can of soda. This alarming fact excludes naturally occurring sugars from foods such as apples or milk.

With the holidays upon us, we're all guilty of consuming large amounts of extra sugar. Most festive celebrations have just as many dessert options as they do actual main course items. 

Like many, you will graze and sample, wait a bit, and grab another treat to nibble. The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it. It becomes a vicious sugar ride that ends with a crash. But, you may have yet to be aware of what sugar can do to your teeth.

Excessive sugar consumption can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. Sugar makes contact with your mouth first before any other part of your body. 

Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth feed on it. The bacteria then create acid as a by-product. These acids break down tooth enamel and can make the enamel weak. A weak tooth can make you more susceptible to tooth decay.

In this scenario, your mouth is the perfect environment for a bacterial party that will allow plaque to flourish. When sugar is the food source, other bacteria in your mouth will join the fun. This soiree will lead to infected gums or worse.

This free-for-all is a significant reason why parents who care about their children's dental health limit how much sugar they allow their kids to consume.

Stop this domino effect with these six simple suggestions:

  1. Brush and floss often It would help if you brushed twice a day to help remove unnecessary plaque, harmful bacteria, and food debris. Flossing is just as important. Most dental cavities form between the teeth. If left untouched, the environment is more optimal for bacteria to grow and destroy your teeth.
  2. Wait 30 minutes before brushing After consuming your food and sugary treats, wait 30 minutes before performing hygiene care. This waiting period allows the saliva to balance the pH levels. The enamel becomes softer from acid levels. Brushing too soon could damage the enamel. If you are in a position where you cannot brush, rinse your mouth with water until you can get home.
  3. Choose sweet treats that don't stick around Tricky, hard, sticky treats adhere to the tooth, lengthening the time of their damaging effects. These sugary treats include suckers, peanut brittle, candy canes, caramel, taffy, butterscotch, or gum drops. These treats could damage existing dental work, like popping off a crown. Try swapping out old-fashioned hard candies for a more dissolvable item like dark chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth.
  4. Don't constantly bathe your teeth in sugar Avoid sipping on sugary drinks all day long. Constant sipping bathes the teeth in sugar. Even with a sugar substitute, be aware of the acid levels. Having a beverage within a meal setting or a shorter time frame is ideal. The mouth needs a proper amount of time to recover.
  5. Bread and baked items contain sugars, too Digestion starts with the mouth. Once chewing cycles start, carbohydrates and starches break down into sugars. Bread, potato chips, crackers, and popcorn have gummy textures. They can smear and wedge between your teeth, fostering bacterial growth. Also, be very cautious of popcorn kernels. You may not realize it, but one lousy bite into a popcorn kernel can cause a tooth fracture!
  6. Enjoy your sweet treats responsibly! We're not saying that you should stop eating sweets and sugar altogether. It would be hard for us to do that, too! We are advocating that you keep track of your sugar intake and think about the effect sugar has inside your mouth. Enjoy holiday celebrations with these tips in mind, which can make for future happy and healthy dental checkups with your hygienist and doctor. Xylitol is a sweet substitute if you're looking for a dental-friendly alternative. Your mouth doesn't recognize Xylitol's sugar compounds, making it an excellent alternative to natural and synthetic sweeteners. Read more about it here.

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