Many people substitute honey for sugar because of its supposed health benefits. But how does honey stack up to sugar when it comes to teeth? Surprising to many who use honey as an alternative sweetener, honey is mostly made up of sugar, which explains its sweet taste. Let’s take a look at whether the type of sugar that makes up honey is good or bad for your teeth.
What is Honey?
You probably already know that bees create honey. But what exactly is honey? Honey is actually made from the nectar of flowers. Looking deeper into what actually makes up honey, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports just over 82% of honey is sugar.
When it comes to sugar content, honey is about 30% glucose and less than 40% fructose, while regular sugar is made up of 50% glucose and 50% fructose, according to Keith Kantor, Ph.D., on Huffington Post. There are also about 20 other sugars in honey. So, as you can see, there isn’t a huge difference between sugar and honey.
Is Honey Good or Bad for Your Teeth?
Since honey is mostly made up of sugar, you shouldn’t consider it good for your teeth. Bacteria love sugar, whether it’s from honey or somewhere else, and will use the energy they get from sugar to multiply on your teeth. As they grow, they form more and more plaque. The bacteria in plaque excrete acids that eat away at your teeth, forming cavities and propelling tooth decay.
Is Honey Better for Your Teeth Than Sugar?
When it comes to your teeth, sugar is sugar. The BBC notes that your body does not differentiate where free sugar comes from, whether it’s honey or table sugar. However, since honey contains more complex sugars, it does take your body more time to break down honey. This means you have more time before the bacteria begins multiplying in your mouth than with sugar. Without proper oral hygiene, sugar from honey, fruit, table sugar, or anywhere else can be detrimental to your teeth.
When it comes to honey, there are much better sugar alternatives for your teeth out there. Polyols like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol, and isomalt are great options. Learn more about the best sweetener alternatives for your teeth here!
How to Take Care of Your Teeth After Eating Honey
Now, just because honey isn’t great for your teeth doesn’t mean you have to stop eating it forever. As long as you consume a moderate amount of honey and practice proper oral hygiene, your teeth should be just fine. Here are a few tips to keep your pearly whites as healthy as possible after eating honey:
- Wash your mouth out with water or mouth washing right after eating. This will help wash away as much honey as possible so that it can’t sit on your teeth and attract bacteria.
- Since honey tends to stick to your teeth, it’s important to brush your teeth after consuming it. Make sure to use toothpaste and brush effectively using these techniques!
- If you have an addiction to honey, visit a dentist to see if your teeth have been negatively affected. We’ll let you know if it’s time to cut down or not, and provide you with ideas for honey alternatives. We can also fill in any cavities or damaged enamel with enamel remineralization.