How can I Satisfy my Sweet Tooth Without Compromising my Oral Health?

satisfy sweet tooth

Sciota, Pennsylvania

Do you seem to keep a regular sweet tooth, or do you get the craving for something sweet just occasionally? No matter which type of person you are, you know that when the mood strikes for something sweet, nothing satisfies the craving quite like chocolate, candy, cake, cookies or donuts. As much as we want to indulge, we also know that nothing damages our teeth more than sugar. In fact, harmful bacteria in our mouths live and thrive on sugar, producing acids that erode tooth enamel.

Void of strong oral health habits to neutralize the acids, plaque and tartar can grow, and this is the recipe for tooth decay. Despite this, our family dentist in Sciota doesn’t expect our patients to completely refrain from enjoying sugar. There’s a way to enjoy your favorite sweet treats in moderation while also maintaining optimal oral health. Let’s take a look at some tips we’ve compiled to help.

What candies are the worst for teeth?

  1. Sticky, gooey candies

Sorry, gummy-bear and taffy lovers: The stickier and gooier the candy, the harder it is to remove from teeth. The longer the sugars from treats like gumdrops, caramels, jelly beans, taffy and gummies are in contact with your teeth, the more prolonged they’re exposed to sugar, increasing the risk of tooth decay. Saliva is beneficial for many reasons, including cleaning the teeth and neutralizing acids. But sticky candies, by their nature, make it difficult — if possible — for saliva to wash the candy away.

  1. Sour sweets

More bad news for those who enjoy candies like Sour Patch Kids: That sour sensation is from citric acid, which can erode tooth enamel. This weakens the teeth’s protective outer layer and invites cavities to settle in. Many sour candies are also coated in an additional sugar, which makes these candies double the trouble.

  1. Hard candies

The longer a hard piece of candy like a Jolly Rancher, peppermint or lollipop sits and dissolves in your mouth, the longer your teeth are bathed in sugar-laden saliva. Also, hard candies are prone to causing chipped or fractured teeth if someone bites down on them.

Now for some good news …

Chocolate is actually the least harmful sweet to enjoy. Dark chocolate contains less sugar than its milk chocolate counterpart, but chocolate, in general, doesn’t stick to the teeth like sour, gooey and hard candies.

How can I safely satisfy my sweet tooth?

Let’s look at some ways that you can indulge in your favorite treats while maintaining optimal dental health:

Wait until after meals

Saliva helps neutralize acids, and it washes away food particles, sugar and debris in the mouth. Saliva production is at its highest during meals, so this is a preferable time to enjoy a dessert or sweet treat.

Drink and/or rinse with water

After enjoying your sweet treat, drink or rinse your mouth with water. Just a few swishes of water can help dilute acid from candy and will also help rinse away sugar on the teeth’s surface.

Chew sugar-free gum

We know it may seem counterproductive, but chewing sugar-free gum — especially if it’s sweetened with xylitol — helps dislodge food particles from the teeth and increase saliva production, which fights harmful bacteria.

Wait to brush

Brushing after eating sweet treats may seem like the right thing to do, but you should actually wait. Residual sugar and acid are at their highest levels in your mouth just after enjoying a sweet treat. Wait for at least 30 minutes before brushing so that you don’t accidentally brush the sugar and acid into the tooth enamel.

Family dentist in Sciota, PA

Fortunately, it’s possible to satisfy your sweet tooth while also maintaining your dental health. So go ahead and dig into that piece of birthday cake or bowl of ice cream, or enjoy the occasional sour, chewy or hard candy. Just be sure to follow it up with careful attention to and care for your teeth. If you have any questions about your dental health or if it’s time to schedule your bi-annual checkup and cleaning, give your Sciota family dentist at Chestnuthill Dental a call at (570) 865-7929.

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