Oh, what a love-hate relationship you seem to have with sugar. You’ve adored it all your life, but it hasn’t always reciprocated the affection. Instead, when you’ve overindulged in it, the residual effects have been somewhat depressing. It’s left trails of weight gain, lethargy, confusion and anxiety. It summons you, and then scoffs and mocks you when you adhere to its beckoning call. Your dentist in Ephrata understands this all too well. Therefore, he offers a non-judgmental assessment of excess sugar consumption and how it affects your oral health.
Why is Sugar So Important to You?
Sugar is important to you because your body actually needs it to function at its optimum levels. For example, your brain uses a form of sugar called glucose. It helps you focus and have clear thoughts. Your body also uses glucose as a source of energy. When you eat complex carbohydrates (complex sugars), your body slowly breaks them down and uses the leftover glucose as fuel to power your daily activities. So, sugar isn’t all bad.
What are the Right Sugars?
The best sugars to consume are those that are naturally occurring, like those found in fruits and vegetables. For example, a “honey crisp” apple is super sweet, but its sugars aren’t harmful to your body and teeth. Instead, it actually contributes to the enzyme production in your saliva that helps to digest food and rid your mouth of harmful bacteria.
The Problem with Bad Sugars
There are, of course, the harmful sugars (also called simple sugars). And these are the ones that have been tormenting you all your life. They fall into the family of processed ingredients, found in snack foods, drinks and candy. Here are some of the dangers they pose:
- Cavities – One of the downfalls of processed sugars, is that they can wreak havoc on your teeth. The bad bacteria in your mouth absolutely love them, feeding on them and growing. As the bacteria grow, they bore holes into your teeth called cavities. Untreated, these can become painful and lead to other issues.
- Gum Disease – Another issue with bad sugars is that they can lead to gum disease. As the bacteria feed on them and grow, the health of your gums is greatly compromised. They can become irritated, puffy, swollen and begin to bleed, all signs of gum disease.
- Acidic Saliva – Eating the wrong sugars can also turn what should be your ally into an enemy. Your saliva is supposed to help you digest your food so that you can begin extracting nutrients. But, when you consume bad sugars, your saliva becomes acidic and actually works against you, contributing to tooth decay.
What Can You Do?
Along with eating a healthy, balanced diet, and avoiding process sugars, you should be sure to brush and floss your teeth at least two times a day. Also, make sure to visit your dentist a minimum of once every six months for an examination and cleaning. This will also allow you and your dentist to work together to stop any approaching problems and develop the best strategies for fantastic oral health.
About the Author
After graduating from Penn State, Dr. Sean Moriarty went on to attend dental school at Temple University, where he earned his Doctorate in Dental Medicine. Committed to life-long learning, he has completed hundreds of hours of continuing education. Dr. Moriarty practices at Ephrata Family Dentistry and can be reached for more information through his website.