- Sugar is in a lot of things. When thinking about sugar, we most commonly think of “sucrose,” the white table sugar that comes from sugar beets and sugar cane. But basically, anything with “ose” on the end is sugar: fructose (found in fruit and honey), galactose (milk and dairy products), glucose (honey, fruits and vegetables), lactose (milk), maltose (barley), etc. Look for these on product labels.
- Sugar is a carbohydrate. Foods that contain carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are the troublemakers that can cause cavities. When the natural bacteria in your mouth is exposed to carbohydrates, it produces acids, which can erode the enamel on the teeth.
- There are degrees of good and bad with fruit. You need to eat fruit as part of a balanced diet, but it does contain sugar that can damage your teeth. Fresh fruit is absolutely the best; it is filled with fiber, which can stimulate saliva production to wash away bacteria. Fresh is followed by frozen and canned if they don’t have any added sugars. Fruit juice is one of the things that often causes cavities in young children, and intake of this should be limited. Cooking fruit (as you do for pies, jellies and jams) releases the intrinsic sugars in the fruit, and there is often added sugar in these treats. Dried fruit may be the worst for your teeth because it is sticky, and it often has added sugar and the sugar, which is very concentrated because the water is removed.
- Go ahead and gorge on the sugar rather than doling it out over time. Eating a bunch of chocolate bars Halloween night is not so bad because the chocolate is pretty easy to wash away with saliva, water and brushing. Other candies, such as taffy, caramel, gummies, hard candies that take a long time to dissolve and, of course, the pure sugar candies such as Fun Dip, can be more problematic because they tend to hang around the teeth longer. But even more importantly, it’s better to indulge in one sitting than bathe your teeth in enamel-corroding acid every single day until the candy runs out. Want to know which candies are the worst for your teeth? Click here!
- What’s even worse than candy? Chips! Science has found that cooked carbohydrates such as chips and pretzels are even worse for your teeth than candy. These starchy foods have high sugar content and cling to your teeth longer, giving those bacteria even more reason to party and cause problems.
Questions about what you can do to make Halloween and other holidays healthier for you and your family. Set up an appointment at Enlighten Dental Care by calling (336) 765-0904.