We’ve heard it all our lives: “Sweets will rot your teeth!” We tend to associate candies and sodas with cavities and unfortunate dental visits.
When we break down the relationship between sugar and dental health, however, we see that it’s not sugar that specifically harms the teeth, but rather the processes that take place after consuming sugar.
Sugar & Bacteria Growth
Your mouth is home to a wide variety of bacteria—some of which are beneficial and others that cause harm. When sugar is left sitting on the teeth and gums, certain types of bacteria kick it into high gear. These harmful bacteria work overtime to break down sugar and process it as food. During this digestion process, dental plaque is formed. Plaque is a colorless film that builds up on the surface of teeth, often described as feeling sticky or fuzzy. The formation of plaque increases acidity levels causing cavities.
Sugar & Increased Acidity Levels
As harmful bacteria works to digest leftover food and sugars, acid is released. Increased pH levels in the mouth can cause tooth enamel to disintegrate in a process called demineralization. The saliva we produce contains reparative minerals like calcium and phosphate, which trigger remineralization of tooth enamel. Frequent exposure to high levels of acidity, however, can inhibit remineralization, leading to permanent enamel destruction and cavities.
Sugar & Tooth Decay
When enamel, the protective coating on teeth, becomes too weak to defend against further damage, it allows for the formation of small holes, or cavities, on the surface of teeth. A small surface cavity can quickly spread to deeper layers in the tooth resulting in additional decay, pain, and potential tooth loss.
Eating & Drinking Habits to Avoid
Consume sugary food and drink in moderation. If your sweet tooth tends to get the best of you, try to avoid well known high-sugar items including:
- Cakes, ice cream, cookies, and other sweets
- Alcoholic beverages
While avoiding candy may seem obvious, be sure to avoid other, less obviously damaging sugary snacks and drinks like:
- Fruit juices
- Energy drinks
- Processed starchy snacks such as tortilla or potato chips
- Flavored crackers
- Corn syrup, honey, and other sweeteners
See Your Dentist to Help Protect Against Sugar Damage
In addition to healthy brushing and flossing habits, optimal oral health requires regular dental visits and cleanings. At Appletree Dental, our providers are available to assist you and answer any questions that you may have.
Located in Thornton, Colorado, our team of dental professionals are available to provide a wide variety of dental services for children and adults. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Meet with a dentist and start your journey to optimal oral health