Regularly consuming sugar causes cavities. This is no secret; many of us learned this fact in grade school. The fact that hidden sugars are everywhere, however, is not common knowledge. Sweets, candy, and soda pop are obvious places to find sugar, however, some foods may surprise you. Simple sugars are also hidden in liquid medicine, cough drops and even frozen vegetables! The most detrimental, sugary foods and beverages are sour candies, soda, sticky candies, and hard candies.
Some individuals make valiant efforts to eliminate sugar consumption completely. In fact, many diets, such as the Whole 30 Program, in the last few years have been designed to eradicate sugar consumption. Avoiding sugar completely (or almost completely) is definitely a very healthy choice.
What if you are one of those individuals that really enjoys a daily sweet treat or looks forward to an afternoon soda pop? We agree balance is everything, and have a few recommendations to help you make great choices when purchasing food and beverages.
Hogan Family Dental recommends:
- Swap out water for soda (adding lemon or orange slices can create a pleasing taste).
- Avoid the “heavy hitter” candy choices: sticky candy (caramels or taffy), hard candy (lollipops, jolly ranchers, etc.), and sour candy. In our opinion, these are some of the most damaging candies.
- Choose great alternatives and still enjoy something sweet! Sugarless gum is a treat many enjoy which stimulates saliva flow and according to the American Dental Association is beneficial to the teeth.
- Choose products that contain xylitol, a plant based sugar. Xylitol is found in many chewing gums, breath mints, and candy. Xylitol is difficult for cavity-causing bacteria to metabolize; therefore the bacteria cannot secrete acid and increase the risk of cavities. Xylitol contains 40% fewer calories than table sugar and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Read food labels! We encourage individuals to not assume all foods are healthy because the packaging says it is a healthy choice. Take a moment to read food labels and evaluate how many teaspoons of sugar are present in each food item.
Remember: One teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar.
- A 12oz can of coke contains almost 10 teaspoons of sugar.
- A single Hershey Kiss contains a little over 1/2 teaspoons of sugar.
- A serving of Oreos (3 cookies) contains a little over three teaspoons of sugar.
Remember, the sugar content of food is not the only variable that affects your teeth and overall health, how often you eat sugar matters too!