Bye-Bye, Sugar: A Dietary Approach to Optimal Oral Health

February 25, 2014

We all know that brushing, flossing, and going to regular dental checkups can help us enjoy fresher breath and a healthier, more attractive smile. Diet also plays a major role in your oral health. While you probably know that cutting down on how many cookies you munch after meals or sodas you chug throughout the day can improve the health of your teeth and gums, what specific changes can you make? Today, we’re discussing two strategies for eating a smile-centric diet.  

Cut the Sugar but Enjoy Your Food

Americans consume an average 130 pounds of sugar every year, primarily in the form of sodas, candies and sugary treats, baked goods, fruit drinks, and sweetened dairy products. You’ll even find added sugar in places you’d never think to find them, like canned soups, savory crackers, and boxed rice and pasta mixes. A high intake of dietary sugar is associated with a number of systemic health problems, like diabetes and obesity, as well as a heightened risk for oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease. According the American Heart Association, we should consume about 9.5 teaspoons of sugar every day, yet the average American adult consumes 22 teaspoons per day while the average American child consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar.

Reducing your daily sugar intake doesn’t mean completely cutting out the foods you and your family love. But you owe it to yourself – and your smile – to incorporate these strategies into your everyday life:

  • Don’t drink your calories. Sodas, sport drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, and sweetened tea and coffee contribute the most sugar to the average American diet. Water, unsweetened or artificially sweetened tea and coffee, and milk (or, in case you can’t drink cow’s milk, unsweetened soy or almond milk) should be your go-to beverages. Try eliminating one sweetened beverage every week until you’re consuming one or less per day.
  • Cereals, fruit snacks, granola bars, and yogurt all seem like healthy snack or lunch items for your children, but most brands contain 12 grams or more of sugar per serving. A few simple swaps include opting for string cheese instead of squeezable yogurt, offering whole fruits or unsweetened, freeze-dried fruit instead of gummy fruit snacks, and purchasing unsweetened cereals (and boosting their flavor using artificial sweetener or cut up fruit) instead of sugary varieties.

About Brad Greenfield, DDS

Dr. Brad Greenfield practices family, restorative, cosmetic, and sedation dentistry with a holistic approach to patient care and comfort. To schedule an appointment with your Lake Orion, MI dentist, call (248) 693-6213. We proudly serve patients of all ages in Clarkston, Auburn Hills, Oxford, Rochester Hills, and neighboring communities.

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