We all know that sugar is the #1 enemy of healthy teeth, but some of us don’t know just how stealth sugar can be. Sure, it’s easy to buy “sugar free” foods, but many times sugar is still lurking under another alias.
There are 5 main sugars that make a delightful meal for the bacteria in our mouths. When these bacteria feed on the sugar, they create a byproduct of acid that attacks our teeth and causes decay.
So before you think you’re outwitting the enemy, make sure you know the 5 sugars and their names that harm your teeth:
5 Main Sugars that Harm Your Teeth:
1. Sucrose – Sucrose hides in plain sight, right under our noses in the sugar shakers on our dining room tables. It’s the most well-known, and sweetest, sugar because it’s the main sugar found in candy, and comes from sugar cane, sugar beets, and maple trees. Interestingly, the bacteria in our mouths easily convert sucrose into a sticky glue-like substance that holds plaque onto our teeth and makes it more difficult to remove when brushing and flossing.
2. Fructose – A less sweet form of sugar, fructose is the main sugar found in fruit, berries, melons, corn, and root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes. However, when fructose is concentrated into a substance known as high fructose corn syrup, it tastes sweeter than fructose and causes much more harm to our teeth. Because it is cheaper, sweeter, and easier to blend into products, high fructose corn syrup has become the go-to, universal sweetener.
3. Glucose – The body breaks down all other forms of sugar into glucose, which is the main energy supply. While it’s usually linked with other sugars to form sucrose, in its natural state it is the main sugar found in the body.
4. Lactose – More commonly known as milk sugar, lactose is found in many dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
5. Maltose – Maltose is the sugar found in grains such as bread, rice, pasta, and cereal.
***Limit your sugar intake, but don’t eliminate it altogether. Sugar poses a slew of health risks, but we shouldn’t avoid it altogether. The most important rule of thumb is to eat sugar in moderation and choose which sugars to consume wisely. If you find yourself eating a lot of sugar, chew sugarless gum after meals and make sure to brush and floss daily.