March 24th, 2016
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.
November 12th, 2015
Want to chew gum? Do it! As long as there’s xylitol in it, your dentist will approve. Xylitol is the perfect sugar alternative. Not only does it not cause tooth decay. It’s also good for your teeth. Yes, you heard that right. Something that tastes as wonderful as sugar actually benefits your teeth. Let’s take a look at why.
What is Xylitol?
Though it tastes like magic, xylitol can actually be all natural. It’s a five-carbon sugar alcohol compound. What does that mean? It’s not actually sugar or alcohol. Instead, it’s a carbohydrate that looks and tastes like sugar. But instead of damaging your teeth, xylitol actually protects it.
Xylitol is found naturally in plants, berries, and vegetables. It can also be manufactured from starches and sugar. Unfortunately, since we eat so much sugar, we can’t get enough xylitol from the foods we eat to sufficiently help our teeth. That’s why we brush, floss and take xylitol supplements.
How does it benefit your teeth?
To understand how Xylitol helps protect your teeth, you have to first understand how you get cavities. According to Registered Dental Hygienist, the average American consumes about 31 teaspoons of sugar every single day. Our teeth aren’t made to eat that much sugar. Inevitably, all of this sugar leads to tooth decay, usually in the form of cavities. The sugar in food causes bacteria in your mouth to grow. These bacteria create hungry acids that eat away at your teeth, causing tooth decay.
Bad bacteria can’t digest xylitol to grow like it digests sugar. In fact, xylitol works to keep the pH level neutral in your mouth. The less acidic your pH levels are, the fewer bacteria will grow and the better off your teeth will be.
Xylitol also stops bacteria from sticking to your teeth. So even if there are bacteria in your mouth after taking xylitol, it’s much less likely that the bacteria will damage your teeth because it can’t stick on to them.
Thanks to increased pH levels, xylitol also promotes enamel repair. As pH levels get higher than 7, calcium and phosphate salts in your saliva help to rebuild weak enamel.
Where can you get Xylitol?
Now that you know great xylitol is for your mouth, you’re probably wondering where you can get some. Since you usually eat sugar during the day, you should try taking xylitol throughout the day as well. You should always look for xylitol in toothpaste and mouthwash. Most of the big names in toothpaste and mouthwash include xylitol because of its benefits.
Since it can be inconvenient to carry your toothbrush and mouthwash around all day, it’s beneficial to have another source of xylitol on hand. Gum, candy and mints frequently have xylitol in them. These products can help you battle bacteria throughout the day. A 1998 article from The British Dental Journal writes that chewing gum containing xylitol prevents cavities and promotes enamel remineralization. You can also find the sweetener in corncobs and stalks.
Consuming xylitol is one of the tastiest ways to keep your teeth healthy! Find out more about the benefits of xylitol and the best places to get it from by contacting the number one Chicago dental practice, Water Tower Dental Care. We would be happy to put you on the right track to a healthy and happy smile.
Tags: acid erosion, cavities, gum, mouthwash, pH, pH levels, sugar, sugar alternatives, sugar free, sweeteners, Tooth Decay, toothpaste, xylitol
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October 15th, 2015
Just because you have a particularly hungry sweet tooth doesn’t mean you're doomed to have cavities. There are a handful of sugar and sweetener alternatives out there that aren’t bad for your teeth. In fact, some of these sweet substitutes have actually been found to be good for your teeth. We’re here to let you know which sugar alternatives and sweeteners are best for your teeth.
Why Is Sugar So Bad for Your Teeth?
Surprising to many, it’s not actually sugar that is your teeth’s enemy. Rather, it’s the bacteria that turn sugar into enamel-eating acids. Sugar is extremely easy for bacteria to break down into acid, which is why dentists want you to avoid eating a lot of sugary food, candy and drinks. When the sugar is broken down into acids, the acids break down your enamel, causing cavities, dental decay, and eventually, an unhappy trip to the dentist.
Best Sugar and Sweetener Choices to Keep Your Teeth Healthy
Unlike sugar, sugar alternatives aren’t as easy for bacteria to break down into acids. A group of sweeteners known as polyols actually have antibacterial properties, according to The New York Times, making them the best possible sugar and sweetener alternatives for your teeth. If sweeteners are antibacterial, they cannot be broken down by bacteria in your mouth and won't cause cavities.
So what are these polyols? Polyols are sugar alcohols that come from a chemical process. Not only are they great for your teeth, but they also contain fewer calories than sugar. Common polyols include xylitol, sorbitol, malitol, and isomalt. Since these sugar substitutes won’t cause cavities, they are often used in gum. In fact, a 1998 article from The British Dental Journal found that chewing gum containing sugar sweetener alternatives, like sorbitol and xylitol, actually helped to prevent cavities due to increased saliva flow.
Are Polyols Healthy for You in Other Ways?
So now that you know that polyols such as xylitol, sorbitol, malitol, and isomalt are good for your teeth, you’re probably wondering if they’re safe for the rest of your body too. According to the Calorie Control Council, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recognized some polyols as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) and others have been approved as food additives. An Expert Committee of the World Health Organization has concluded that polyols are safe for human consumption after careful review.
For very sensitive people, polyols have been found to cause gastrointestinal problems, such as gas or laxative effects, but these issues aren’t permanent. Polyols have been used for many years by people all over the world. They are pretty well documented as being a safe and effective sugar and sweetener alternative.
You don’t have to sacrifice delicious sweets in order to keep your teeth healthy. Polyols taste just as delicious as sugar without the harmful tooth decaying effects! If you have any more questions about the best sugar and sweetener alternatives for your teeth, you should reach out to us on Facebook!
Tags: acid erosion, cavities, cavity, isomalt, malitol, polyols, sorbitol, sugar, sugar alternatives, sweeteners, Tooth Decay, xylitol
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