Gloomy Stats On America’s Sugary Smiles

Posted on Apr 15, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

On a worldwide scale, what is one of the most common diseases?

You may be surprised to learn that the answer is tooth decay. When researchers from the University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine studied public health records from around the world, they found that the United States is far too sugary.

Almost 92% of American adults have experienced cavities. Compare this to Nigeria, where their diet contains almost no sugar. The study found that only 2% of the population had tooth decay.

Although fingers point at sugar as the villain, it’s actually how sugar reacts in the mouth that sets the destructive process into motion. When we consume sugar, it combines with saliva and bacteria in the mouth. Although all foods and beverages activate an acid attack in the mouth, sugar is the ‘perfect food’ for oral bacteria. These acids cause decay to teeth to begin.

Yet, the destruction doesn’t stop with your teeth. As oral bacteria reproduce and accumulate, the gums become inflamed. This is the initial stage of gum disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss.

American diets are saturated in sugar. Foods and beverages are laden with it and sugary consumables are typically easy to access. Everywhere you turn, from vending machines to fast food establishments to nearly every check-out line, candy bars, gum and sodas are within arm’s reach.

The World Health Organization recommends that a person’s total calories in a day should consist of no more than 5% from sugar. For most, sugar is not an easy substance to delete or reduce in daily diets. Why? Because sugar is addictive. MRI scans have shown that sugar activates the same brain regions as are activated during cocaine use. It’s also been found that the more sugar you consume, the more you need since you build up a tolerance. This is a symptom of substance dependence.

Want to kick the sugar habit? There are numerous books and online sources that guide you through weaning yourself off of sugar. And, going cold turkey isn’t always the best way. Switching to honey, an actual food that the body processes without creating a ‘high,’ is a good way to begin.

While fluoride has helped, on its own, it is insufficient to overcome the continual bacterial onslaught from American sugar consumption. Your smile is more important than sugary indulgences. As a matter of fact, your entire body would operate better without sugar.

Take a stance that sugar will not ruin your smile (or the smiles of your family members)! Every habit takes time to break so allow 2-3 months to ease off of sugar altogether. Until then (and always), floss daily, brush twice a day (for 2 minutes each time), drink lots of water and be committed to your 6-month dental cleanings and check-ups.

Call (828) 274-9440 to get your mouth in healthy shape!

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