Are you addicted to sugar?

Are you addicted to sugar?

Eating too much sugar can have a detrimental effect on your smile.

We all know that sugar can have detrimental effects on our health, and yet many of us still treat it as a reward. For many people, sugar is the ultimate treat and it’s easy to see why — the flavour is good, plus eating sugar releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Some research suggests that sugar may even be as addictive as certain drugs — read on to find out more and to discover what you can do if you’re hooked to the sweet stuff…

What is addiction, exactly?

When we eat sugar, certain chemicals that make us feel good are released in our bodies — this is what connects sugar with other addictive behaviours. One of the chemicals that is released is known as dopamine — whenever a behaviour causes a release of this chemical, one feels a sense of pleasure. These pleasurable feelings are likely to make you want to repeat the behaviour over and over again. The more you repeat the behaviour, the more your brain adjusts and, over time, it begins to release less dopamine each time. In order to feel the same level of pleasure, one has to repeat the behaviour more frequently.

Sugar has the very real ability to activate the neuropathways that make us feel good, and this can lead to compulsive behaviours like binging on sweet treats despite knowing that it could cause negative side effects like health issues and weight gain.

How can you curb cravings?

If you are concerned that you regularly overindulge on sugary treats, it can be difficult to break the habit. With some time and commitment, however, it is certainly possible to keep cravings at bay.

Some people find it helpful to chew some sugar-free gum between meals. A good distraction from snacking, chewing on gum also helps to boost the production of saliva in the mouth. This helps to prevent the mouth from drying out and also washes away leftover food particles that may be stuck after eating.

Try to replace sugary snacks with healthier alternatives like fresh fruit. Fruit will give you a sweet fix without harming your teeth or general health, plus it’s packed with plenty of nutrients and fibre.

When a craving hits you, try to distract yourself with some exercise if you can. A brisk walk or jog will take your mind off the treat you’re craving and will also release feel-good chemicals in the brain.

Why should you limit your consumption of sugar?

Although it’s fine to enjoy the occasional sweet treat, it’s important to remember that sugar is best enjoyed in moderation because it can do some serious damage to your smile.

The mouth is packed with bacteria, and when you eat sugar, certain bacteria digest it and produce harmful acids that can erode the enamel of the teeth. When these acids remove minerals from the enamel, a process known as demineralisation occurs. Fortunately, saliva plays an important role in reversing the damage of bacteria, but if the enamel is constantly attacked, it will weaken over time. As a result, cavities can develop.

For these reasons, it is advisable that you limit your consumption of sugary foods and drinks. If you do enjoy a sweet treat, be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Practice proper oral hygiene on a daily basis, and try to see your dentist every six months so that the early signs of tooth decay can be identified and resolved as soon as possible.

How can we help?

At Murwillumbah Dental, we understand that your overall wellness is closely connected to your overall health. We love to help our patients take care of their general health and are available to answer any questions that you have regarding your dietary choices, lifestyle and oral hygiene habits.

We encourage our patients to come in and see us every six months for a check-up and clean. To find out what to expect at a routine appointment at Murwillumbah Dental, please have a look here.

To arrange an appointment to see us, please get in touch with us here or give us a call on (02) 6672 1068.