Okay, so it’s not a particularly nice subject but the important ones seldom are. How many times have we all been told “don’t eat too many sweets – they’ll rot your teeth!” This is, quite literally, the case. I recently had my six month check up at the dentist. Being an avid chocolate eater, I am ashamed to say I have my fair share of fillings. I used to dread going to the dentist as they would almost certainly tell me every time I went that I needed a filling. What did I expect? I was eating so much sugar, not only in chocolate bars but also the added sugar contained in everything else, from Special K to bread and pasta sauce, it was inevitable that my teeth would decay.
Now, back to my check up. After a minute or two of the dentist checking my teeth and gums, I was given a clean bill of health! Not only that, when the hygienist saw me, she said the build up of plaque on my teeth was significantly reduced and asked what I had done differently. When I told her I’d given up sugar, she was astounded at the results. Come to think of it, so was I. Giving up sugar for such a short period of time meant that the amount of plaque build up was minimal. Even though I brush my teeth twice a day, giving up sugar made a huge impact on my teeth.
When you run your tongue over your teeth (as I’m sure you’re doing right now) after you’ve just brushed them, they feel incredible – both teeth and gums feel silky smooth. Do the same at the end of the day after you’ve eaten sugary foods and you can feel a rough film over your teeth and gums. That’s plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that sticks to your teeth. And this is significantly increased when you eat sugar. Here’s why.
Everyone’s mouth is full of bacteria, some beneficial, others not so much. These bad bacteria feed on sugar and, in doing so, produce acids that destroy tooth enamel, the white, shiny outer layer of the tooth. The damage caused eventually results in holes in your teeth. That’s when you need a filling or, in my case, several. The more sugar you eat, the more acid is produced by plaque bacteria and therefore, the more cavities you create. Obviously, brushing twice a day helps get rid of the bad bacteria in your mouth but cutting down on sugary and starchy snacks makes a significant difference as my dental check up confirmed.
Unfortunately, tooth decay still happens but these small dietary changes can have enormous beneficial effects. And if, like me, you don’t enjoy your bi-annual trips to the dentist, these small changes can tip the balance in your favour. You’ll also be helping your waistline enormously!
In my next post I’ll be sharing a Mediterranean-style recipe for Spanish omelette. Until then everyone.