We all know that eating candy bars and other sugary snacks is not good for your overall health. We also know that soda’s and other beverages chocked full of sugars can lead to higher obesity rates and related diseases. But what isn’t talked about as much is how much sugar affects our dental health. That’s right today we want to talk about how what you eat and drink affect your oral health.
Humans are the only species in the world that get cavities and the rates of tooth decay and cavities have only increased. Scientists recently discovered that the individuals who lived in Pompeii when the volcano Vesuvius exploded actually had pretty good dental health. Why is this? Back in the time of the bustling port town of Pompeii, humans consumed very low rates of sugar. Sugar was not a typical ingredient in their diets was probably only consumed through natural sugars like fruits and honey. These days many foods and beverages are packed full of refined sugars.
There is a reason dentists say to lay off the sugar and soda. Sugar is the fuel for the bacteria that causes plaque build-up. As the plaque grows and sticks to your teeth due to sugars, it creates an acid as a by-product that eats at the enamel, or mineral coating, of your teeth. Once the plaque is through the enamel, it’s very easy for the bacteria to take hold and grow which forms cavities. Regular soda is exceptionally bad for your teeth because it compounds the damage by having both high rates of sugar and high levels of acidity. The acidity is why even diet sodas that have different types of artificial sweeteners can also damage your teeth. A neutral acidity is rated at a 7.0 pH. This is roughly where water falls. Acidic beverages start causing erosion of the enamel at an acidic pH of 5.5 or lower. Where do your typical sodas fall on this scale? Regular sodas fall right around a 2.5 pH and diet sodas at a 3.15 pH. Not good for your teeth.
So, if soda can cause tooth decay and cavities, what about the sugars in fruit? Why, if the people of Pompeii ate diets heavy in fruits and vegetables, did they have nearly perfect teeth? A study requested by the World Health Organization in 2004 examined the association of dental health and free sugars in people’s diets and as expected, high rates of sugar consumption correlated with high levels of dental problems. They found that any more than 10% of yearly energy intake being in the form of sugars substantially increases your risk of tooth decay and cavities. This includes concentrated sugars such as fruit juices. Fruit consumed as part of a normal, balanced human diet does not increase your risk of tooth decay. This is considered when you eat raw fruits and vegetables or use a water bottle with fruit infuser. This means a handful of times a day. It took consuming upwards of 16 to 17 portions of fruit to increase this risk. However, concentrated sugars like the ones found in fruit juice
Consuming sugars naturally in fruits isn’t harmful to dental health where high concentrations in sodas and fruit juice have been shown to be the main cause of tooth decay. Making healthy choices during meals and during the day with a water bottle with fruit infusers can help keep teeth healthy and help you get an A+ at your dental check-ups.
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