How Bad is Sugar For Your Teeth?

In the recently released 2015-2020 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are issued every five years, federal health officials advised Americans to limit their added sugar consumption to less than 10% of their daily caloric intake. For someone with a 2,000 calorie limit per day, that’s less than a 20 oz. can of soda.

Excessive sugar consumption has been a serious issue for both children and adults in the past few decades, especially in soft drinks, juices, and “sports drinks” which are often advertised as healthy. In fact, sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet. While the most obvious consequences include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even gout, there are also oral health issues being exacerbated by increasing sugar intake. Tooth decay, gingivitis, and cavities are just a few of the many potential side effects of sugary drink consumption, and experts have been suggesting replacing these drinks with water for years.

Foods that are considered “empty calories” such as cookies, candy, cakes, and even chips are equally as harmful to the teeth as they contain excessive amounts of sugar that will adhere to the teeth. When oral bacteria start to feed of these clinging sugars, the result is often tooth decay and weakened enamel.

Instead of candy or mints, a better alternative is sugar-free chewing gum. The American Dental Association says that although chewing gum should never replace brushing and flossing, it does help reduce plaque acids, cavities, and gingivitis. In fact, clinical studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum immediately after a meal helps prevent tooth decay.

Here’s how it works: the physical act of chewing actually increases salivary flow, which neutralizes and rinses away the plaque and acid that are produced when food breaks down in your mouth. Depending on the ingredients present in each type of sugarless gum, it may also help reduce cavities or promote remineralization of tooth enamel.

If you’re curious as to whether your favorite gum makes the cut, here’s a list of ADA-approved chewing gum, none of which contain sugar. Keep practicing preventative dental care to prevent tooth decay and gum disease by making time for at least two dental cleanings a year. ZendyHealth can even help you save on the retail cost!

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