A lot of us want to eat better by cutting out excess sugar and reaching for healthier snacks when we’re feeling hungry. If you pack a lunch for work you might be stuffing it with healthier options and avoiding the junk you used to eat, but are those safer snack options any better for you?
It seems that no matter how far dental care advances we still face chronic problems all over the country. It’s no different here in Houston, where plenty of people come to our office due to cavities and gum disease. Fighting these common conditions isn’t just about brushing and flossing properly – it’s also about knowing what hidden sugars could be lurking in your favorite snacks.
Why Sugar Is So Bad
You’ve probably heard it all your life: “sugar rots your teeth!” That’s not exactly true, though: sugar itself is harmless; it’s the bacteria in your mouth that’s doing the damage. Oral bacteria metabolizes sugars into acid that irritates your gums and erodes your enamel, paving the way for gum disease and tooth decay.
Ditching a candy bar for a healthier snack might not even be helping! There are tons of foods that are packed with added sugar, and some that even come with high levels naturally. If you’re going to maintain your oral health you need to do everything you can to ditch these dangers.
Packing a bag of dried fruit in your lunch can seem like a good choice, and in some ways it is. Fruit contains plenty of vitamins and minerals that help your body function a bit better, and it’s low in calories too. It’s not low, however, in sugar.
Fruit contains a lot of natural sugar, and when you condense it down to a dried form you’re ingesting it in really high concentrations. Fresh fruit also contains fiber to help counteract some of the harmful effects of sugar, but that fiber loses its power in dried fruit. If you’re becoming a fruit junky we recommend a change: bring the fresh stuff instead.
Who doesn’t love some pretzels, crackers, or a nice slice of fresh bread? They’re all wonderful, and wonderfully packed with carbohydrates that quickly turn to sugar in our mouths! It’s a shock to realize that starchy snacks still contain sugars, but they’re there – they just do a much better job of hiding.
When carbs in processed flour-based foods hit your mouth they break down pretty quickly, leaving nothing but sugar behind. As soon as that happens your oral bacteria has a feast ready for it, and the next thing you know it’s acid attack time!
Tossing a yogurt cup in your purse or lunchbox seems like a good way to get some extra calcium and vitamins, but that’s not all you’re getting – you’re getting a lot of sugar too. In fact, the average flavored yogurt cup contains around six or seven teaspoons of sugar – imagine plopping that much sugar on anything!
The sugar in flavored yogurt pretty much nullifies the health benefits because it’s all added sugar. When we add sugar to foods we’re not adding the body-fueling glucose. We’re adding fructose, which isn’t anything but a sweet that gets turned right into fat.
These are a favorite of people everywhere – they’re made of grain, so what could be bad? The sugar content, of course. Like the other foods we’ve discussed in this blog post, granola bars are packed with sugar while still seeming healthy. That’s not to say they don’t contain good things, but those good things are countered by the damage they can do.
If you consider granola bars an easy and healthy snack we encourage you to dump them for some homemade granola. You can add the same great ingredients, all without the massive amounts of added sugar. Your body and your teeth will thank you!
Eliminating Treats: The Only Answer?
We don’t want to make you think that ditching all the good snacks in the world is the only way to save your smile – there’s plenty you can do to keep it healthy while indulging in the occasional sugary treat.
One of the most important parts of controlling your oral health is getting twice annual dental exams and cleanings. That’s how we can keep an eye on your oral health and treat problems before they become a serious risk. In just two hours a year you could be saving your smile from expensive and uncomfortable procedures – what’s not to love?