Many people don’t completely understand how exactly sugar consumption can result in tooth decay, and they also often don’t realize how much sugar they’re really consuming.
At Smile Town Langley, we believe that moderation is a fundamental element of a healthy diet. And a healthy diet is an important element of overall health, and dental health too.
While we consistently warn our patients and their parents of the dangers of sugar when it comes to oral health and cavities, we realize that for most families, it isn’t realistic (or even healthy) to cut sugar out of the diet completely. For most of us, sugar is a necessary (and enjoyable!) part of daily eating habits.
So instead of demanding our patients cut sugar out of their lives completely, we tend to suggest that they take a smarter approach to their sugar consumption, and simply keep it moderate.
The problem is, many people don’t realize just how much sugar there really is in the foods they eat every day, and so many people overindulge in sugars without realizing it.
Sugar & Cavities
We all know that sugar causes cavities. But that’s not the whole story! The bacteria that live in the mouth feed off of sugar, and when they do, they produce acids. It’s actually these acids that cause cavities, because they eat away at the enamel and dentin of our teeth.
In short, sugar + bacteria = acid… and acid causes cavities!
Cutting Down on Sugar
We all know the usual suspects when it comes to dietary sugar: things like cake, candy, gum and other sweet treats. But these days, sugar seems to be an ingredient in almost everything else, as well!
Next time you’re at the grocery store, take some time to read the ingredient lists of some of the packaged foods you purchase. You’ll find sugar in everything from bread and dairy products, to packaged dinners and canned tomato sauce.
But don't worry. By taking just a little extra care, you can avoid unnecessary dietary sugar, and save your kids’ sugar consumption for when it's time for a treat!
1. Read Labels
Taking time to read ingredients lists while you’re shopping will allow you to familiarize yourself with the products and brands that contain more sugar, and those that contain less or none.
You may find that all you need to do is switch brands to cut down your family’s sugar consumption significantly.
2. Learn About The Different Words for ‘Sugar’
There’s more than one way to say ‘sugar’! There are multiple words that appear on ingredients lists that really mean sugar, and some brands are a bit sneaky and try to disguise the large amounts of sugar in their food products by naming all the different types they use separately.
For instance, even though the following words all sound a completely different from each other, they all mean sugar:
- Ethyl maltol
- Cane juice
- Carob syrup
There are also many other words that mean sugar in addition to these. So familiarize yourself with some of these terms before your next trip to the store, and don’t be fooled!
3. Avoid Processed Foods
Processed foods are very convenient, but we pay a price for that convenience.
Processed foods can be quite high in sugar (even surprising ones like the canned tomato sauce mentioned above), so whenever possible, try to cook your own food from scratch.
This is easily one of the best ways to avoid hidden dietary sugar, because you’ll know exactly what ingredients and how much of each you’ve added to your dish.