In this week’s Ask Me Anything, Dr. Chuck provides insight into the dental impact of your sugar cravings.
A piece of chocolate or a handful of gummy bears might satisfy your sugar craving, but how does that treat affect your dental health? One of our followers at The Dental Medical Convergence recently asked Dr. Chuck how they can still eat candy while preventing dental problems. This is a tricky question to answer.
Study shows sugar’s addictive nature
Dr. Chuck points to a study done on rats, which shows just how addictive sugar is. In 2007, scientists gave rats water sweetened with saccharin (a calorie-free sweetener), and they also gave them intravenous cocaine. The majority of the animals – 94% – preferred the saccharin. Most people think of cocaine as being highly addictive, so the results surprised many. It also shows the addictive nature of sugar. Doctors suggest limiting your sugar intake so the craving for it will go away. Once in a while, indulging in a sweet treat to satisfy a craving is OK. Too much of it will lead to your body wanting more and more sugar.
Here’s why sugar is so bad for your teeth:
Dr. Chuck likes to say the mouth is the front door to the body. That means that food and drinks can be beneficial to your oral and overall health – they can also be harmful. Harmful bacteria produce acid in your mouth when you drink or eat sugar. The more sugar you consume, the more the bacteria multiply. The acid then eats away at your teeth. Over time, all this acid weakens and destroys the enamel on your teeth, which leads to a cavity. Properly cleaning your teeth and limiting sugar consumption are the best ways to avoid cavities.
How to prevent dental problems
We recommend spending 7-10 minutes a day cleaning your teeth. It’s best to clean between your teeth with floss, then brush with a toothbrush. You should also visit the dentist every six months for an oral exam and cleaning, or as often as your dentist recommends because of your dental situation. If you have dental insurance, your two healthy mouth cleanings a year are usually covered by insurance, meaning you don’t have to pay a dime. Prevention is usually the best way to save time and money when it comes to your health. After all, dental health issues can sometimes lead to bigger health problems, including cardiovascular disease and pregnancy complications.
Do you have a question for Dr. Chuck? You can ask me anything! Send your questions to AMA@thedentalmedicalconvergence.org.