By Lucy Walker RDH, CDA Contributing writer for Dr. Bicuspid
- Sugar Is Not the Only Culprit for Tooth Decay
Sugar consumption is a well-known factor that affects oral and systemic health. Patients need to understand the different types of sugars and the importance of how sugar affects them systemically.
It is important to remember that tooth decay depends on more than just the frequency of sugar consumption. Medical conditions, radiology treatments, and medication-induced xerostomia can all affect the development of carious lesions.
- Xylitol Has Some Sweet Oral Health Effects
Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are commonly referred to as sugar substitutes. Xylitol one of many sugar substitutes, commonly added to processed foods labeled as "sugar-free" or "no sugar added" is also naturally found in fruits and vegetables. It is similar to table sugar but only two calories per teaspoon, unlike sucrose, which has 16 calories per teaspoon.
The sugar substitute also has antimicrobial activity which can reduce numerous types of infections including SARS COV-2 according to an article published in November 2020: Potential Role of Xylitol Plus Grapefruit Seed Extract Nasal Spray Solution in COVID-19:
While promising, xylitol has its drawbacks. Overconsumption of this sugar alcohol can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals.
- Sugar Can Contribute to Some Diseases
Sugar is linked to numerous chronic diseases, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and could all cause insulin resistance, a risk factor for periodontal disease and key factor in diabetes.
- Sugar Can Help (And Hurt) Your Skin
Overconsumption of sugar can cause skin problems, such as acne and accelerated aging. When too much sugar enters the bloodstream and binds to proteins to form molecules, it will ultimately cause fibers in the skin to weaken resulting in wrinkles.
Although sugar has a negative reputation in sweet treats, it can be an excellent ingredient in skin-care and other hygiene products since it is a natural humectant which is commonly added to shampoos and lotions to help draw in moisture for hydration. Humectants can even be found in toothpaste to help retain water.
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