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Sugar and Teeth Health

The impact on oral health isn’t so sweet.

Woman smiling to show link between sugar and teeth

We now may have a better idea of why eating too much sugar can affect your teeth and result in more expensive dental work. That’s because it can disrupt our microbiome—not just in our guts but also in our mouths.

A study in Scientific Reports by researchers at the University at Buffalo found that Streptococcus mutans, a bacteria known to contribute to tooth decay, was positively associated with sucrose (white sugar), total carbohydrates and glycemic load in older women. Leptotrichia spp., which is linked to gingivitis (gum disease), was positively associated with sugar intake, as well.

The study used data from 1,204 postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative, including samples of subgingival plaque, which occurs under the gums and where oral bacteria involved in periodontal disease are primarily residing. What remains to be seen is if other demographics show this same diet-bacteria link to poor oral health. But it appears if you want to spend less time (and money) on your teeth, it is a good idea to go easy on sugar.

See also: Why Dentists Don’t Approve of Energy Foods

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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