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Stevia and Your Oral Health

Whenever you visit your dentist's office for a check-up and cleaning, the odds are that you will be advised to cut down on eating candy and cake , drinking soda as well as keeping a watchful eye on other foodie faves. Dentists and hygienists never get tired of talking about this subject. And with good reason.

Any dental professional will also tell you that it's good to keep in mind that sugar lurks in many unsuspecting places like sports drinks , yogurt and even canned fruit ( it's in the syrup or " juice ". So,always remember to check the nutritional content label of whatever packaged food or beverages you are buying at the supermarket. In addition , do please watch what you order at the local fast food chain. Those sweet ice cream desserts and coffee drinks have more than their fair share of sugar.

Sugar, as we all know by now, is one of the major culprits that causes cavities. And, while cavities themselves can be extremely unpleasant, these little villains can lead to other problems that are much worse such as tooth decay and infection.

A cavity, which is a tiny hole in your tooth, can, if left untreated ,grow larger and larger until the only treatment may be to pull the tooth. You do NOT want that to happen. Not to mention the pain that unchecked cavities can cause.

How, you may ask, do cavities start ? Great question. And the answer is simp-ler than you may think.

Cavities are formed when harmful bacteria that is already residing in your mouth and fermentable carbohydrates ( SUGAR and STARCHES ) meet up. When they get together, the bacteria metabolizes these carbohydrates into organic acids that will then start to erode the enamel on your teeth.

Try your very best to keep sugar OFF those pearly whites. Because, when it sticks like glue to your enamel bad things happen.

The good news , though , is that there ARE now some very nice alternatives to sugar, if you have a sweet tooth. Do please excuse the pun, but we couldn't help it. One such natural sweetener is STEVIA. This sugar substitute is derived from certain plant leaves that can be found in the forests and jungles of Brazil and Paraguay. It is, far and away, a healthier option than other sugar substitutes including high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

Stevia was first introduced to Western Europe in the late nineteenth century by a Swiss botanist Moises Bertoni. Mr. Bertoni spent considerable time in eastern Paraguay and was introduced to the Stevia Rebaudiana plant by the local indigenous people.

A multitude of tribes in South America had been using Stevia for well over a thousand years to sweeten various teas and as an additive for medicines.

Stevia is sweet enough to satisfy those taste buds of yours. But, as it does NOT contain fermentable carbohydrates Stevia can be considered NON ACIDOGENIC. In plain English, that means that Stevia doesn't lower your mouth's PH as much as does table sugar, which causes MUCH greater acid build-up on your teeth. As we have learned by now, harmful bacteria thrive in an acidic environment.

If you, like most of us, are watching your weight, there's yet another benefit to utilizing Stevia as a sugar substitute. It contains NO calories. It is important to note, however, that the FDA has only approved the purified form of stevia, called stevioside. You can feel safe and secure using products that contain Stevia as it has undergone a rigorous regime of testing. But, there is one caveat.

Do NOT purchase any Stevia plant whole leaves that might be for sale at your neighborhood health food shop. Research is still being done on potentially harmful side effects. More and more physicians are encouraging their patients with diabetes to include Stevia in their diet as an alternative to white sugar.

However, MODERATION is key when it comes to using Stevia. Do not overdo it. Prior to introducing Stevia into your lifestyle, please consult your dentist or family physician. And, there is nothing like staying true to a basic oral health hygiene routine; making sure that you brush and floss every single day. Take care of your teeth and they'll take care of you. We mean that quite literally.

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