In holistic dentistry, we know that taking care of your teeth is more than just oral hygiene and making regular dental visits. It’s about adopting a lifestyle that is healthy for your teeth and your body.

And one of the best places to start with that is by changing your diet. Changing your diet allows you to control what enters your body, and by selecting foods and drinks that promote health, you do immeasurable good for your oral health.

There are many oral health hazards in the modern American diet, but perhaps the worst for your teeth is the sugar sweetened beverage (abbreviated SSB in some health circles).

Sugary drinks are dangerous to your overall health. They contribute to obesity and diabetes. They have even been linked to genetic damage. And they pose numerous risks to your teeth, too. But we have some good news on this front. Consumption of sugary drinks continues to decline, with a significant drop in recent years according to a new study.

Sugary drinks are bad for your overall health

A Long-Term Decline

The data for this new study comes from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a representative survey of Americans across the country. Conducted at regular intervals, the NHANES gives us an evolving portrait of the eating and exercising habits of Americans. The NHANES data shows us that the consumption of sugary beverages has declined significantly over the years. In 2003, for example, the survey showed that about 80% of children and 62% of adults consumed a sugary drink every day. But by 2014, that figure had dropped to 61% of children and 50% of adults. That’s still too many people to drink sugary beverages every day, but it’s also a dramatic improvement. Along with the drop in sugary drink consumption, we’ve seen a drop in the number of calories consumed in beverages, from 341 to 313 per day for children and 425 to 341 for adults.

And the NHANES shows that people aren’t just going without drinking, which could lead to dehydration that isn’t good for your oral or overall health. Instead, people have increased their water consumption, which helps keep the oral environment clean and ensures your body has enough water to keep up the saliva supply.

Why Sugary Beverages Are So Bad for Teeth

What makes us so excited about this news? Frankly, it’s because sugary drinks play a special role in the development of cavities, and reducing their consumption is likely to lead to a dramatic reduction in

Why is this news such a big deal for your teeth? Sugary beverages are among the worst foods for your teeth, so if people are consuming fewer of them, it will likely result in less tooth decay.

So what makes sugary beverages so bad for your oral health? It’s similar to the reasons why fruit juice is more harmful than whole fruit. First, the dissolved sugar in beverages is immediately available for consumption by bacteria. It’s all dissolved and it’s often simple sugars (think high fructose corn syrup, but, really sucrose is just as bad, maybe worse from this perspective) that are favored by the most damaging oral bacteria. And because you’re not chewing, there’s little saliva to dilute the sugar or impair the growth of bacteria.

The other problem is that sugary drinks are often highly acidic as well. Most of the popular sugary drinks are acidic enough to dissolve your tooth enamel, sometimes hundreds of times more acidic than the threshold for dissolving tooth enamel.

Another part of the problem is the way people consume these drinks. When someone gets a soda in the afternoon as a pick-me-up, they will often slowly sip that drink for a half hour or more. This leads to repeated infusions of sugar and acid that damage your teeth and promote the growth of oral bacteria.

A Comprehensive Approach to Dental Care

If you think that oral health begins and ends with your toothbrush and floss, then you’ve already put yourself at increased risk for tooth decay and even tooth loss. One crucial aspect of minimally invasive dentistry is looking for lifestyle changes that can prevent tooth decay and promote tooth healing.

That’s why we’re so happy to see that the country is moving in this direction by consuming fewer sugary drinks. Want to learn more strategies for avoiding tooth decay in Rochester, NY? Please call (585) 244-3337 today for an appointment with a holistic dentist at Contemporary Dentistry.