As soon as the weather turns cooler each year and people start decorating their porches with pumpkins and goblins, periodontists in Pittsburgh start worrying about how all of those extra treats will affect our patients’ teeth and gums. Sugar, although not responsible for dental decay directly, is the main food source for the bacteria in your mouth that causes cavities, deep rooted infections, and even periodontal disease. Aside from the dental effects, over-consuming sugar can also cause these potentially dangerous systemic side effects:
Sugar Interferes with Insulin Production
Study after study has shown the correlation between an overconsumption of sugar and developing diabetes, largely because of the way sugar affects insulin production. Simple sugars, like glucose, seep through the walls of your intestine and signal the pancreas to create insulin, a chemical that your body uses to help your cells to metabolize sugar and turn it into energy. Unfortunately, when you consume too much sugar for a long period of time, your body can become resistant to producing insulin like it should, which can flood your bloodstream with glucose and cause diabetes.
Sugar Affects Your Hunger Reflex
Unfortunately, having sugar and insulin surging through your bloodstream also interferes with another crucial chemical called leptin. Leptin is the hormone responsible for telling your brain when you are full, which means that interfering with this hormone causes people to overeat. Ultimately, eating too much sugar could cause you to overeat in general—not just sweets—which can affect your weight and cause obesity.
Sugar Damages Sleep Patterns
Blood sugar spikes and lulls can also affect sleep patterns, making it more difficult for people to fall asleep at night and making people tired during the day when they need to stay productive.
Decreasing Your Sugar Intake
To stay healthy and happy, dentists and doctors alike recommend doing what you can to decrease your sugar intake. Focus on eliminating added sugars from your diet by staying away from sugary snacks, candies, and sodas. If you do decide to indulge, swish your mouth with water to wash away those sugary residues. If you use a fitness or wellness tracker, record your meals so that you can monitor your daily sugar intake. To stay on the safe side, experts recommend that women keep their daily sugar intake under 100 calories a day, and that men keep their intake below 150 calories a day. It might seem like a sacrifice at first, but reducing your sugar levels could help you to keep your body healthy and strong.
With Halloween coming up, we at the Silberg Center for Dental Science expect our patients to indulge in a few tasty treats. But the more careful you are about sugar, the healthier your body and mouth will be. Contact us today for more suggestions and advice on keeping your mouth healthy.