While you are certainly aware that sugar is one of the main causes of many dental problems, what you may not realize is how it can lurk in the most unsuspecting places. For example, there are sugars that appear naturally in many foods – even milk!
It is for this reason that we recommend that parents don’t put their babies to sleep with a bottle of milk. As milk pools in a child’s mouth, the sugars mix with bacteria in the mouth to make a milk acid, which can then attack the tooth enamel to produce cavities.
Make a habit of reading the labels on any packaged foods that you buy. Ingredients should be listed by weight, so if sugar is shown at the top of the list you know it is a major ingredient in the product. Note that sugars also include corn syrup, molasses, dextrose, fructose, glucose, sucrose and honey.
Medicine isn’t even immune to sneaky sugars – because as Mary Poppins well knew, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…” Read the ingredients of liquid cough syrup and other medications. Sometimes your doctor can recommend sugar-free alternatives.
Sticky sweets like toffee or sweets that linger in your mouth like hard candies and lollipops compound the effects of sugar as they remain in your mouth longer than a quickly dissolving chocolate bar, for example.
Excess sugar can wreak havoc not just on your teeth, but elsewhere in your body too, so make a habit of reading the ingredients in any packaged foods before you buy them, be aware of low-sugar or sugar-free alternatives in your daily diet, and if you do choose to eat a sugary food aim for one that will not linger in your mouth for extended periods of time.