While you have probably heard several times how bad sugar is for your health, it is likely that you don’t truly understand just how negative the effects of sugar are, especially on your teeth. In fact, sugar is the number one cause of tooth decay in people who practice normal daily oral care. So, if you are aiming for oral health, and overall health, you will want to take a step back from the sugar intake.
How does sugar cause tooth decay?
Your mouth is full of thousands of different types of bacteria, some that are beneficial, and some that are harmful. When you consume sugar, there is a group of harmful bacteria in your mouth that feed off of that sugar and then produce a type of acid in your mouth. The acids break down the healthy minerals in the tooth enamel (which is the hard, protective outermost layer of each tooth). When these bacteria produce this enamel-decomposing acid that breaks down your tooth’s enamel, it is called demineralization.
Your saliva helps work against these harmful bacteria via a process called remineralization. There are healthy minerals in your saliva that enable the enamel to repair itself by supplying the minerals that were lost from the demineralization.
The problem is, when you are consuming too much sugar, your saliva is at a loss and finds itself unable to address all the damage being caused by the harmful bacteria and acids. Over time, sugar consumption can eventually win out over the remineralization leading to cavities and tooth decay.
How do the cavities form?
After enough of the enamel is weakened and broken down via the harmful bacteria in your mouth, a hole develops in the tooth, or as you may know it, a cavity is formed. Cavities worsen when left untreated and spread down to the deeper layers of the tooth which can even lead to tooth loss after enough time. If you have a cavity, you will likely notice the following symptoms:
- Regular toothaches
- Pain when chewing
- Tooth sensitivity, especially to hot or cold drinks and food
How to protect your mouth from tooth decay
The first way to protect your mouth from tooth decay is to engage in regular, daily oral health care habits. This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing daily. Here are some other ways to fight cavities:
- Avoid sugar, but if you do consume it brush your teeth immediately following. If you don’t have access to a toothbrush, drink water, and swish it around in your mouth, and reach for a piece of sugar-free gum. Sugar-free gum encourages the production of saliva which helps fight the harmful bacteria.
- Use a straw if you drink something sugary, so it is directed to your throat and past your teeth.
- Watch out for hidden sugars in juices and flavored waters.
- Avoid chewy sugary snacks, as they have a tendency to get stuck in your teeth and increase harmful bacteria.
- Go in for a dental cleaning in Irving every 6 months
Make sure you understand the risks of consuming too much sugar and follow the tips above to keep your mouth healthy and cavity free. Come visit our trusted and caring Irving family dentist at Cosmetic and Family Dentistry to ensure your oral health is in check. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call us today.