Sugary drinks have become increasingly popular over the years while serving sizes have also steadily increased. You may not even realize how much sugar you are consuming when you have things like pop, energy drinks, and flavored coffees. Having too much sugary foods can not only harm your teeth, but also increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
It is a carbohydrate that has calories but no nutritional value. It can be found naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is also added to many processed foods. Reading the nutrition label can help you find out how much sugar is in a product. Alternative names for sugar include glucose, fructose, lactose, cane sugar, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup as well as many others.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada recommends that “you consume no more than 10% total calories per day from added sugars, and ideally less than 5%; that is, for an average 2,000 calorie-a-day diet, 10% is about 48 grams (or 12 teaspoons) of added sugars. One can of pop contains about 85% (or approx. 10 teaspoons) of daily added sugar”.
The bacteria in our mouths feed off of sugar and other fermentable carbohydrates. As a result of their digestion, the cavity-causing bacteria produce acids that eat away at our teeth, causing cavities. To make the problem worse, a lot of sugary drinks are also acidic, which can lead to acid erosion.
The best drink is water; this is the drink you should choose the most. It is not only the best for your teeth, but it is a good choice for your overall health. Milk can be part of a healthy diet since it does have some nutritional value but its sugar content should be taken into consideration. If you have juice, always look for the 100% pure fruit juices with no added sugar. Eating fruit is still preferable to drinking fruit juice.
Sports drinks often contain a lot of sugar and are also acidic. Most people who play sports can stay adequately hydrated with just plain water. Only if you are sweating profusely do you need the electrolytes from a sports drink.
Have them with a meal– If you are eating a meal, your mouth will be producing more saliva which will help to protect your teeth and wash away some of the sugars.
Use a straw– This will help the sugary beverage to bypass your teeth as you are drinking it. For those worried about plastic waste, there are reusable straw alternatives on the market.
Hurry up– Sipping drinks over an extended period will increase the contact of the sugar and acids with our teeth. This will increase the risk of damage being done.
Rinse with water– After having a sugary drink, it is a good idea to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water to get rid of some of the sugars and acids in your mouth.
Brush and floss– Good oral hygiene will remove the cavity-causing bacteria and will help to limit the damage done by sugary drinks. It is a good idea to wait 30 minutes after consuming a sweet drink before brushing to reduce the risk of acid erosion.
Reach for water first, enjoy other drinks in moderation and be mindful of your sugar consumption and your oral health will thank you!