Diet and Oral Health
Sugar Substitutes and Sugar-Free Products continued...
Sugarless or sugar-free food sometimes simply means that no sugar was added to the foods during processing. However, this does not mean that the foods do not contain other natural sweeteners, such as honey, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, fructose, barley malt, or rice syrup. These natural sweeteners contain the same number of calories as sugar and can be just as harmful to teeth.
To determine if the sugarless or sugar-free foods you buy contain natural sweeteners, examine the ingredients label. Words that end in '-ose' (like sucrose and fructose) usually indicate the presence of a natural sweetener. On the label, look under sugars or carbohydrates.
Is Chewing Gum OK for Teeth?
Chewing sugarless gum is actually beneficial to your teeth as chewing helps dislodge food that becomes stuck to your teeth and also increases saliva flow to buffer (neutralize) mouth acids. Some gums contain ingredients that can reduce cavities as well as heal areas on the teeth where cavities are beginning. Chewing gum can be a problem, however, if you have jaw pain or other issues with your jaw.
Teeth and Gum Care Tips
These are some basic tips for caring for teeth and gums:
- Brush your teeth regularly. Brush at least twice a day and preferably 30-60 minutes after every meal and snack.
- Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Use a mouth rinse daily.
- Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings -- typically twice a year.
- Eat a variety of foods to maintain overall health. Eat fewer foods containing sugars and starches between meals. If you must snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a firm fruit (such as an apple).