How sugar affects teeth
We’ve always been told that sugar destroys the teeth and contributes to tooth decay. A study by the WHO (World Health Organization) discusses sugars classified in categories. Are both types of sugars bad for teeth, or is just one the enemy to a great smile?
The difference between natural vs. unnatural sugars
Natural sugars are those that naturally exist and are not added to food. Examples include honey, whole grain, and fruits. Refined sugars are those that we add as an ingredient food and beverages, such as candy and coffee.
Sugar, itself, is already present in our bodies. The sugar found in the body is called glucose, and it is a vital source of energy for us. Natural sugars and well-regulated glucose cause tooth decay, at least not in the same way that refined sugars do.
Does Sugar Cause Dental Caries?
Natural sugars found in foods, like everything else you eat, can impact your oral health but whether or not they cause cavities and tooth decay like refined sugar is answered in the study. The evidence shows that sugars naturally present in grains, whole fruits, and vegetables and also in milk do not make an important contribution to the development of dental cavities, also known as dental caries. This is because of the innate characteristics found in these foods such as rich fiber content – (added nutrients for the whole body), water content – ( improves saliva production), and other protective factors such as polyphenolic compounds or calcium or both.
Saliva Stimulation due to Natural Sugars
Natural sugars help stimulate salivary flow. There are four functions of saliva and one of them is to minimize bad breath due to dry mouth. A dry mouth, one without adequate saliva production, is the best environment for producing an overabundance of bad bacteria.
Tooth Decay and Whole Grain
When choosing carbs, whole grain is best because it contributes less negatively to dental issues.
Carbohydrates like whole grain are better for oral health than those that are processed because of what happens to food after it enters the mouth. The process to break down processed starches occurs primarily in the mouth when saliva is mixed with foods. This saliva and food mixture quickly turns refined carbs into sugar that erodes the tooth enamel.
When it comes to whole grain, it takes longer for your body to break down the complex carbohydrates in whole-grains into simple sugars. This delay allows foods to move past the mouth to be broken down in the stomach and in other areas of the digestive system.
Some studies conducted by the World Health Organization even conclude that whole grain carbs help improve oral health by lowering your risk for periodontal disease. Dr. Merchant of McMaster University in Canada told Reuter Health, “A diet that is beneficial for general health is also good for oral health.” Eating whole grains at least 3 times per day makes you 23% less likely to develop periodontitis than those who eat less or none.
Colgate: Whole Grains May Help Lower Risk For Periodontal Disease. 2018
World Health Organization: Sugars intake for adults and children. 2015