How do you prevent tooth decay when you love sugar? Most of us do: JAMA Internal Medicine says about one in 10 of us get a quarter of our calories from it. It's also included in an unexpected variety of foods, making it hard to know you're eating it. But sugar exacerbates tooth decay symptoms, such as gum recession, tooth discoloration, sensitivity and bad breath. The good news is there are ways your family can cut back, if not kick it completely, preventing tooth decay and creating a healthier, happier household. Here's what you should know about sugar in food and four ways to curb your family's intake.
Foods You Eat Can Cause Tooth Decay Symptoms
Part of good dental health is knowing what's in your family's food and how it can harm your teeth. According to WebMD, sugar induces plaque to develop which will combine with carbohydrates and cause acid build up, which breaks down tooth enamel, causing cavities to occur. Perhaps surprisingly, ketchup, granola bars, salad dressing, baked beans and spaghetti sauce all contain sugar. Even vegetables such as carrots, beets and corn consist of their own natural sugars, but their minerals and fibers ultimately make them a healthier option for your family. Portioning a half cup of raw veggies is a good rule of thumb as an appropriate serving size.
Brushing after each meal, and supplying your family with products like Colgate Wisp® are habits that boost your family's dental health in the long term. Addressing your family's sugar intake at the same time is an essential part of good dental care.
Learn to Spot Added Sugar in Food Labels
Spotting sugar in food is the first way to curb it. Sugar has many names: Sucrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, dextrose, xylos and saccharin are all variations of sugar. Refined sugar, found in candy or sweetened cereals, is the most harmful, but any kind, particularly when overused, can create plaque and cause tooth decay.
Take the time to read food labels and cut down on foods with these ingredients to help in preventing tooth decay symptoms. Substitute high-sugar items with sugar-free, homemade treats such as unsweetened granola. Consider unsweetened nondairy creamers as well.
Choose Fruits Low in Natural Sugar
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw, unsweetened raspberries, blackberries and cranberries have the lowest amount of natural sugar; cherries, tangerines and mangos have the highest. Learn which fruits have the least amount of sugar for healthier household snacking.
Eat Small Meals Regularly
Small meals throughout the day preserve your energy level, especially those rich in complex carbohydrates. These types of meals will maintain your natural sugar levels so you and your kids are less tempted to reach for a sugary treat. For optimum energy, fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies. They're the best source for complex carbs.
Commit to a Start Date Together
Even if for a little while, make a commitment with your family to stop eating sugar altogether. If you're used to consuming it, it takes four to seven days for sugar cravings to subside. Long periods without sugar will increase your taste bud sensitivity, so you're less inclined to reach for it. Foresee celebrations and holidays, and choose a start date when you'll be less tempted to indulge in the desserts calling to you from the supermarket.
Consider a diet end date, too. It'll be easier for your kids if they know they can have it in moderation in the future, and they'll be more willing to cut back when they feel better from the break.
Sugar is hard to get away from, so knowing which kinds to avoid is the secret to success so you don't get tooth decay symptoms. Steering clear of your classic, empty-calorie sugars sets a valuable example for your kids and secures the future of their dental health. Check labels and have reasonable standards to make it practical. Talk to your family about sugar and dental health today, and start working toward a more healthy and happy family, with fewer unnecessary trips to the dentist.
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