Why You May Have a Sweet Tooth

Some people love sweet foods; some people prefer saltier ones. Is it purely a matter of personal taste? Perhaps not. Dr. Jimmy C. Wu runs Sutra Dental Spa in La Mesa, California, which he founded after completing his bachelor’s degree in biology at UC San Diego and going on to get his DDS from the University of Southern California. Here, he talks about why there might be a scientific basis to whether you have a sweet tooth or not. It all comes down to your baby days.

Most people know whether they have a sweet tooth or not, although some people cannot choose between that chocolate bar or bowl of potato chips. But few of us know that there might actually be a scientific basis for our sweet and salty preferences. We just assume that we were born that way, and that we can do nothing about it.

Researchers at the Academy of General Dentistry have found that people who like sweet foods as adult were probably given sweetened drinks, sugar, candies and dried fruit when they were babies and children. The correlation between what you ate or drank when your first baby teeth erupted and what you like to consume as an adult has been proven, so stop giving your kids all those sugary foods.

Also, what is commonly known as baby bottle tooth decay happens when children are exposed to too many sugary foods and drinks from the time they are drinking from a bottle. You should limit or cut out their sweet drinks, never dip a pacifier into anything sugary like honey or molasses, and never allow your child to take a bottle to bed containing only water. Also, some medicines, especially naturally bitter ones, may contain sugar, so be sure to brush your children’s teeth after dosing them up.

Sweet Origins

Supposedly the term “sweet tooth” dates all the way back to the 1300s, when it was used to describe people who enjoyed eating delicacies, regardless of whether they were sweet or salty. The term evolved to encompass people who like sweet foods only. Ripe fruits are the richest in certain nutrients, so it is thought that people developed a preference for sweets as soon as the first fruits appeared.

If you are desperate to satisfy your sweet tooth cravings, make sure you floss and brush properly after eating sweet foods. If you can’t brush right away, rinsing your mouth and chewing sugar-free gum that contains xylitol can help take some of the sugar away from your teeth before it causes damage. And remember that some candies are better than others: Hard candies can stay in your teeth for a longer period of time, while chocolate sticks around for only a few minutes. Lollipops, taffy and other sticky candies should be avoided as they basically bathe your teeth in sugar.

Keep in mind that eating sweet foods can be addictive as the sugar releases feel-good hormones and makes you want more. So don’t get your kids addicted early, or they may be faced with a sweet tooth for life.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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