Ask a Dentist

July 29, 2021

Q: How Do I Deal With Sugar Cravings?

Various sweets such as gummy worms and marshmallow on display

Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you like sugary foods like cookies, candies and ice cream? While craving sweets from time to time is natural, too much sugar can wreak havoc on your oral health as it increases the risk of tooth decay and even a chipped or cracked tooth.

How Do Sweets Affect My Teeth?

The American Dental Association says plaque bacteria use that sugar to produce acids that attack your enamel (the hard surface of your tooth), causing cavities. If you like chewing on hard candies, you could also be susceptible to a dental emergency like a broken tooth.

You can find out more about how sugar can affect your teeth in this Ask A Dentist post. 

Why Am I Craving Sugar?

Research shows that sugar has an effect similar to an addictive drug that triggers you to want it more and makes it hard to give up. On top of that, your sugar cravings may also be rooted in a combination of nostalgia (the memory of enjoying sweets with a loved one), habit (always having something for dessert) and chemical attraction (the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain). 

How To Stop Sugar Cravings

By taking a few precautions, you can indulge your sweet tooth responsibly. Here are some tips to curb your sugar cravings and protect your teeth:

  • Brush regularly. Brushing your teeth after eating a sweet treat may help keep your mouth clean and your teeth healthy. Make sure to brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time. The Mayo Clinic says to avoid brushing your teeth straight after eating as brushing too soon removes enamel that was weakened by the acid. 
  • Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated keeps your cravings at bay, helps wash away the sugar from your mouth and even fights against dry mouth. Plus, fluoridated water can strengthen your teeth during the remineralization process.
  • Skip processed foods. Sugar often hides under several names and turns up in foods you wouldn't suspect, such as bread, crackers, salad dressing, ketchup and light mayonnaise. Make sure to read food labels to know how much sugar is in each serving.
  • Indulge occasionally. Living a healthier lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding your sweet cravings altogether. Continuously limiting yourself from your favourite treats could lead to binging. Instead, allow yourself to have sweet treats once in a while as a part of a healthy, balanced diet. 

Eating in moderation, along with proper health care practices, is the key to preventing cavities. If you want to talk to a dentist about how to balance your sugar cravings and oral care, we recommend you book an appointment at one of our Dental Image Therapy Centres locations (Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre) for a checkup and cleaning. Our dental professionals can assess how to best protect your teeth.

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Maybe it's time for your and your family's regular checkup and cleaning, you have a toothache or you need to get your treatment plan going - whatever the reason, we're here to help you get your confident smile. Whether you're a new patient or a returning friend, we can't wait to see you at your next appointment at either of our Winnipeg clinics!

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