Most of us know that sugar is bad for our teeth. When you eat sweet foods or drink sugary beverages, it’s literally a feast for the bad bacteria inside your mouth. That bacteria produces acid, and that acid can be the cause of tooth decay. But simply knowing that sugar is bad for your teeth doesn’t make it any easier to avoid delicious desserts and drinks. In fact, if you have a sweet tooth, avoiding sugar may seem like an impossible task. There are, however, several ways to reduce your cravings for sweets – and save your teeth at the same time!
- Eat fruit: You’ve no doubt heard this idea before, but it really works! Fruits not only taste sweet and have a lot of naturally occurring healthy sugar that can satisfy your cravings; they are also rich in nutrients and fiber, which helps make you feel full. Eating crunchy fruit like apples provides an added benefit of cleaning your teeth!
- Snack on yogurt: Eating protein really helps to reduce your sugar cravings, and yogurt is a delicious source of protein. An added benefit for your teeth is the calcium that’s contained in yogurt. Research shows that eating yogurt is an effective way to feel full and control your sweet tooth. Of course, it’s important to choose one with no added sugar!
- Choose a protein snack: As we mentioned earlier, studies have proven that eating protein helps reduce sugar cravings. So try a protein snack like eggs, meat, nuts or cheese. In fact, cheese increases saliva flow and provides good doses of both calcium and phosphates, making it an excellent snack for improving your oral health.
- Try protein snack bars: Another great source of protein are snack bars, although you’ll have to choose carefully. Look for bars that are high in fiber and low in sugar. Bars made with nuts are good choices, but avoid those that are too crunchy or chewy, since they can be hard on your teeth.
- Munch on carrots and add sweet potatoes to your dinner menu: As vegetables go, it’s hard to find any that are sweeter-tasting than sweet potatoes and carrots. In fact, munching on carrots can be an excellent way to not only satisfy your cravings, but naturally clean your teeth at the same time! And sweet potatoes contain a healthy dose of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. There’s no need to add any additional sweetener to sweet potatoes – which is often done around the holidays, for example, in recipes that call for sweet potatoes and yams to be covered in brown sugar and marshmallows. In fact, these delicious vegetables are surprisingly sweet when they’re simply baked in the oven!
- Chew sugarless gum: Not only will sugar-free gum satisfy your sweet tooth, it will also increase saliva production inside your mouth, and that helps to wash away leftover food particles.
Reducing your sugar cravings may take time, but it’s well worth the effort. You’ll enjoy better overall health in the long run, and your teeth and gums will thank you!