Dealing With Your Sweet Tooth: The Effects of Sugar on Our Dental Health

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Dealing With Your Sweet Tooth: The Effects of Sugar on Our Dental Health

An excess of sugar can lead to cavities, compromise your dental health, and increase your risk for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. However, sugar is in almost everything that we eat, which makes it very difficult to stay away from.

While sugar is found in obvious foods such as candy and other sweets, it can also be found as an additive. Some common places where sugar may be hiding include:

  • Dairy products
  • Ketchup
  • Bread
  • Boxed Meals
  • “Low Fat” foods

When you eat sugar, your body will release dopamine, the “feel good” hormone, from the reward center in your brain. Every time this chemical is released, it makes you feel good and leaves you craving more. This is one of the biggest reasons that sugar becomes so addictive.

Listed below are 3 helpful ways to combat your sugar addiction:

1. Commit to Quit

As with other addictive habits, committing to a clean break is the best way to be successful in cutting excess sugar out of your diet. It’s up to you to decide how you want to cut sugar out of your diet. Stopping or reducing the consumption of sugar can be the best way to help your brain get a chance to reset. 

However, quitting cold-turkey may leave you feeling tired or irritable for a few days due to withdrawal. Getting rid of the sweets and sugary beverages in your house is the best way to ensure that temptation doesn’t sabotage your efforts. If you don’t have sugar readily available, you are much more likely to reach for a healthier option.

2. Find Healthy Substitutes

Diverting your cravings and finding different ways to release dopamine will keep you on the right track for the long-run. Activities such as exercising or reading a book can trigger the same reaction in your brain as eating sugar.

You can even try drinking a large glass of water to ensure that you’re not confusing hunger with thirst. However, if the craving still persists, try substituting refined sugar snacks with foods containing natural sugar, such as fresh fruit.

3. Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced

Maintaining a consistent blood sugar level can help you avoid those intense sugar cravings. Try eating smaller, nutritious meals throughout the day. Eating every 3-4 hours and being sure that those meals/snacks contain a healthy amount of protein and fiber will help you feel satisfied for longer periods of time.

Refined sugar enters your bloodstream just as quickly as it leaves, leading to the infamous “sugar crash”. This is the crash that signals to your brain that you need more sugar so the cycle can repeat itself.

Combatting unhealthy sugar habits is an important way to ensure your dental (and general) health will be in great shape for years to come!

Thanks for taking the time to learn! Invest in yourself and make habits that will benefit you and your loved ones for not only this year but years to come. If you have questions, or would like to set up an appointment, don’t hesitate to call us at (206) 203-9385 or reach us online!

Jeff Knudson, DDS

Jeff Knudson, DDS

As a Seattle area native, I could not be more thrilled and honored to serve my hometown. Dentistry is a true passion in my life and I am committed to providing the best dental care in all of Seattle. I have often been told that I could “talk teeth all day” – and it’s true!

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