Why a sweet tooth combined with lockdown are a bad combo.
Posted on 22 April, 2020 by Hillsborough Dental
If you are anything like me you will have been opening the cupboards and fridge much more often during this lockdown period. I have a terribly sweet tooth so my choices are invariably poor ones.
Dental decay needs three things to occur – teeth, sugar and bacteria - eliminate any one of these and you solve the problem of decay.
However that is sadly impossible unless you would like to replace your teeth with a set of plastic dentures. What we can aim to do is clean well with a great oral hygiene routine and minimise sugar in our diet.
The process of tooth decay occurs when bacteria which normally reside in your mouth feed on sugars in your diet, producing acid as a by-product which in turn dissolves tooth structure. The more time sugar is in our mouths the greater the damage.
My strategy for reducing decay risk is a pragmatic approach. I would say enjoy your chocolate bar or sweet treats but take them only at meal times and if possible just after dinner once a day.
Studies have demonstrated that after meals the pH in your mouth drops for around 20-30 minutes. This means acid is being produced because so many foods contain sugars. For example potatoes have starch, fruit has fructose, dairy has lactose, sweets, chocolates and cakes have sucrose – all sugars which bacteria can feed on. After 20-30 minutes your saliva neutralises the acid and the damage slows or stops. Can you see then how if you continue to eat sugars multiple times through the day or graze on a packet of sweets throughout the evening, your teeth will be under attack from acid for a longer time?
Feeling peckish? More often this is due to boredom than hunger. Pour yourself a glass of water and sip this. It will give your hands something to do and help your body’s hydration.
Try weaning yourself off, even if not completely, sugar on cereals and number of teaspoons in tea/coffee. Reductions will help.
Watch out too for hidden/unexpected sugars in foods such as baked beans (lots of added sucrose), potato crisps (in the flavourings), raisin snack boxes (highly concentrated fructose) and “no added sugar” fruit drinks which already contain lots of fructose.
Be careful too to avoid acidic foods and especially drinks. They will do the same damage as acid produced from sugar by bacteria. Things in this category are any carbonated fizzy drink, especially the diet varieties which have pH as low as 2 - that’s very bad.
So my summary advice is:
- Eat less sugar
- Eat sugar less often and at meal times only
- Think of alternative between meal snacks like dairy cheeses, soft nuts like cashews and peanuts, crisp vegetables al dente like carrots and celery
- Drink more water.
I’m off to dig a vegetable patch!