What Does Sugar Do to Teeth?
Most people enjoy the occasional cookie or slice of cake. However, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your teeth and overall health. Consuming too much sugar can contribute to dental disease. While sugar itself is not to blame for cavities, sugar reacts to bacteria that live in the mouth, creating acids that eat away at tooth enamel. The more sugar that you consume, the more harmful acids that are produced. To lower the risk of tooth decay, reevaluate your diet and switch to foods that contain low amounts of sugar.
How Do Cavities Form?
Approximately 1 in 4 adults between the ages of 20 and 64 currently have at least one cavity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dental cavities refer to holes in the teeth that develop when acids in the mouth erode enamel, the outermost layer of tooth structure.
Plaque plays a key role in the development of cavities. This sticky biofilm contains millions of bacteria that are constantly forming on your teeth. Plaque feeds on the sugars from the foods and beverages you consume and releases acids that damage tooth enamel due to the loss of phosphate and calcium.
If the early signs of tooth decay are not recognized and the problem is allowed to progress, these acids can start to impact the next layer of tooth structure, the dentin. Hot, cold, sticky, and acidic foods can stimulate the nerves in the dentin, resulting in tooth sensitivity and discomfort.
Protect Your Teeth
While there is a direct link between sugar and dental disease, you don’t need to stop consuming sugar altogether. Tooth decay and gum disease are preventable with good oral health practices and a healthy approach to your diet. Consider the following tips to protect your teeth:
Brush at least twice a day
Brushing is your best line of defense against developing cavities. Brushing helps to gently remove bacteria, sugars, and other debris on the teeth to prevent the formation of acids.
Chew when you can’t brush
If you don’t have access to a bathroom where you can brush, toss a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth to help get rid of any excess food particles that may be clinging to your teeth. Chewing gum can also help neutralize the acids in your mouth.
Avoid prolonged contact with sugar
There are many foods that contain sugar and it’s difficult to avoid them all. What you can do is avoid prolonged contact with these sugars by removing food debris by brushing or using mouthwash.
Minimize your sugar intake
It’s important to be aware of the many foods that contain sugar and to avoid foods and drinks that contain large amounts of sugar. Remember that even some healthy foods contain sugar, such as yogurt, oatmeal, and dried fruit.
Know the warning signs of disease
Oral health conditions are best treated in the earliest stages. Familiarize yourself with the common warning signs of tooth decay and gum disease, such as tooth sensitivity, tooth pain, tender or swollen gums, gums that pull away from the teeth, bleeding gums, or chronic bad breath.
If you have already experienced damage to your teeth and gums from too much sugar, don’t worry. It is possible for teeth to be remineralized in the early stages of tooth decay. This can be achieved by using fluoridated toothpaste and rinses which help strengthen tooth enamel. Also, speak with your Clermont dentist about treating the decay before it gets worse.
Visit Hancock Village Dental
Maintaining good oral health means more than just brushing and flossing. It is also important to eat a nutritious diet and cut back on sugary foods and drinks. Remember that the occasional sugary treat won’t completely destroy your teeth. However, like all things in life, it’s important to consume sugar in moderation. For more information about the effects of sugar on dental health or to schedule an appointment, contact Hancock Village Dental today.