Let’s admit it. Sugar is delicious. With millions of choices out there for desserts, ice cream, candy bars, and more, it can be easy to fall into habits of consuming too much sugar. But when does sugar start to become an addiction, and how does too much sugar affect your oral health?
Sugar can become very addictive if you are not careful. The reason that sugar could be considered addictive is that when we eat it, opioids and dopamine are released into our bodies. “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the ‘reward circuit’ associated with addictive behavior. When a certain behavior causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable ‘high’ that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat the behavior” (healthline.com).
In addition to merely desiring to eat sugar repeatedly, some other signs and signals can show you are addicted to sugar. One signal that you have had too much sugar is having the opposite of sugary cravings. According to Lisa Richards, a nutritionist who created the Candida diet, your body is telling you that you need to eat something more nutritious. You have had too much sugar when you start to crave salty and savory foods. Another signal of having a sugar addiction is not having the ability to stay away from it. If you have tried to quit eating sugar and begin having withdrawals, that is a sign of sugar addiction. A signal of sugar addiction that you may not have thought about before is using sugar to relax. For example, if you have had a stressful day, are you eating sugar to cope with your issues? If you notice yourself consuming sugar frequently to overcome life’s problems, it is time to address the problem.
The issues that sugar can cause for your oral health have to do with the acids your mouth creates to break down sugar. This same acid can dissolve your tooth enamel. This can damage your oral health because dissolved tooth enamel leads to the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. When excess sugar is left on your teeth, it invites bacteria to sit in your mouth and enjoy a meal.
To decrease the possibilities of sugar causing damage to your teeth and gums, you can take some preventative steps.