Valentine’s Day is a romantic holiday, but it’s also a time when it’s hard to turn down chocolates, wine and candy. Sugar plays a major role in the destruction of our teeth. When you have a sweet tooth, you’re at risk for tooth decay and may need dental fillings and cavity treatments.
What Does Sugar Do To Our Teeth?
Sugar consumption sets off an unpleasant chain reaction in our mouths. There are hundreds of bacteria in our mouths, and for the most part, we need these bacteria to protect our teeth. Unfortunately, these bacteria do not react well to sugar. When we eat sugary foods, the bacteria uses the sugar to create acids that destroy the outer protective layer of our teeth (enamel). Once the enamel is destroyed, it won’t grow back.
Besides ruining our enamel, the acids created when bacteria bonds with sugar can lead to holes in our teeth (cavities). If left untreated, cavities can penetrate beyond the enamel and harm the under layers of our teeth, leading to tooth loss.
When acids attack our teeth, it’s called demineralization. In a healthy mouth, remineralization occurs to replace the effects of the acids and strengthen our teeth with the help of our saliva. Saliva is chock full of minerals like calcium and phosphates that work to repair our teeth and outwit the acids. Furthermore, fluoride, a mineral found in toothpaste, also helps restore damaged enamel. Nevertheless, if you eat sugary foods with every meal, your saliva and the fluoride from your toothpaste can only do so much, and you will eventually need dental fillings and cavity treatments.
How To Curb Your Candy Cravings
Valentine’s Day is tough on our teeth, especially with all that candy widely available. To curb your candy cravings, try the following:
- Water is your friend: To keep sugar cravings away, make sure you are hydrated. More often than not, we don’t realize that when our body is demanding a sugary treat, it’s actually demanding water. If you’re not keen on drinking water with your Valentine’s Day meal, try green tea.
- Watch your blood sugar: Most of us are conditioned to eat three meals a day. However, when those meals are too far apart and we don’t snack in between, our blood sugar drops and we’re left craving sugar. To keep your blood sugar at an even level, incorporate healthy snacks into your day.
- Get enough sleep: The less we sleep, the more sugar we want. Try to ensure you get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. When we’re tired, we’re more inclined to overdo it with the candy. Conversely, when we get ample sleep, our body doesn’t crave the sweet stuff.
- Stay away from processed foods: In 2013, researchers from Connecticut College performed a study on the effects of processed foods, and their findings were quite scary. It turns out that processed foods (all of which are high in sugar) can be as addictive as cocaine and heroin. When we eat processed foods, the sugar contained in them stimulates the region of our brain that produces dopamine, a natural compound that makes us feel good. This feeling doesn’t last long, and as soon as we’re done that bag of candy, we flatline and want more.
- Skip the pop: The sugar in pop is bad for your teeth (and waistline). As with any sugary treat, drinking soft drinks produces plaque and bacteria that destroys your enamel. Even diet pop can ruin your teeth, so make sure you avoid these carbonated beverages altogether. If you do have a pop on Valentine’s Day, make sure to drink water afterwards to help rinse out your mouth.
- Watch the wine: Most us of will indulge in a glass of wine (or the whole bottle) this Valentine’s Day. It’s okay to treat yourself every once in a while, but remember that alcohol is full of sugar. If you like cocktails, keep in mind that healthy-seeming mixers like juice and tonic water are teeming with sugar. Mixed drinks, especially those with flavoured alcohol, are just as bad. If you keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum, you can keep tooth decay and oral cancer at bay.
Having a sweet tooth is normal, but it’s all about how you control it, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or any day of the year. At Dawson Dental we offer dental fillings and cavity treatments. Please contact us for more information so that we can help you take charge of your oral health.