Dr. Charles Martin
Cosmetic, Implant & Sedation Dentistry
Creating Beautiful, Healthy Smiles for over 30 years
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11201 West Huguenot Road,
Richmond, VA 23235 | Directions
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Surprising sugar statistics: Richmond Dentist discusses nutrition and your teeth

Nutrition and Your Teeth Richmond - Dr. Charles Martin It is said that we eat first with our eyes and then with our mouths, but perhaps our brains should lead. Most people have a general understanding of nutritious eating and the body benefits of a balanced diet. Good nutrition is also vital to healthy teeth and gums. In this age of packaged and prepared foods, it isn't so simple to find tooth attacking culprits like sugar. Dr. Charles Martin encourages families in the Richmond area to "think before you eat and drink."

Background on C12H22O11

C12H22O11 (12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen, and 11 atoms of oxygen) is the basic chemical formula for sugar. You'll probably never need to remember it, but you should know a little background on sugar and its role in our diets. Sugar is a soluble carbohydrate that occurs naturally in most plants and is also found in milk and honey. The sweet taste of sugar has an evolutionary appeal to humans to keep us from eating unripe or spoiled vegetation which would make us sick, and because higher sugar content provides more energy – crucial for survival in earlier times.

Sugar isn't inherently bad for us, but because modern life doesn't put the same demands on our bodies, we don't need very much of it. Sugar sources are no longer rare, and it contributes to obesity. Today the average American devours the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar daily, about four times what the World Health Organization recommends.

Sugar and your mouth

Hundreds of strains of bacteria thrive in the warm, moist environment of your mouth, where they feast on sugars from the foods and beverages you consume. As bacteria eat, they excrete acids that erode tooth enamel and irritate soft tissues. Too much sugar, along with negligent oral hygiene, leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

Where sugar hides

Even if you read labels, sugar isn't always obvious because it goes by many names. Watch for these (which all have a similar effect on your mouth):
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup
  • Malt syrup
  • Syrup
  • Dextrin
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose
  • Corn sweeteners
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Corn syrup
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Crystallized cane sugar
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Invert sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Turbinado sugar
The American Dental Association cites the following as top sources of added sugar in U.S. diets:
  • Soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks – 35.7%
  • Cakes and pies – 12.9%
  • Fruit drinks –10.5%
  • Ice cream – 6.5%
  • Candy – 6.1%
  • Ready-to-eat cereals – 3.8%
  • Sugars and honey – 3.5%
  • Sweet tea – 3.5%
  • Yeast breads – 2.1%
Should you strive to eliminate sugar from your diet? It's probably not necessary unless your Doctor advises that. However, substituting fresh, crunchy produce for sweet snacks, brushing right after eating, and visiting Richmond Smile Center at least twice a year will help you enjoy a healthier mouth for life. Call 804-417-7203 today for an appointment with Dr. Martin.

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