Cookies, cakes, and other sweets make for a tasty occasional treat. However, too much sugar in your diet can have an adverse effect on your smile.
There is a direct connection between sugar consumption and tooth decay. The mouth contains tiny microbes that turn sugar into acids which break down tooth enamel, often resulting in decay. A diet high in the sweet stuff can also contribute to gingivitis or gum disease, which can then progress to periodontitis, a more severe condition that affects the bones and gums that support the teeth.
If you have a sweet tooth, you may be wondering how much is too much. Here we’ll discuss how it affects the teeth and how much you should consume to avoid the pitfalls of sugar consumption.
The War on Bacteria
Many different types of bacteria take residence in your mouth. Some of these bacteria are good for your dental health and digestion, while others are considered harmful as they digest sugar and produce acids. When acids are produced, they remove minerals from tooth enamel in a process known as demineralization. Weakened enamel can make teeth more vulnerable to chips and breaks. It can also increase side effects like tooth sensitivity.
Saliva helps to reverse damage caused by sugars in a natural process known as remineralization. The saliva in your mouth contains minerals like phosphate and calcium that can help the enamel repair itself by replacing lost minerals and strengthening the teeth. However, frequent consumption causes a repeated cycle of acid attacks that cause ongoing mineral loss. Over time, these attacks can lead to tooth decay.
The pH level in your mouth also plays a role in cavity formation. When you eat foods and beverages containing a lot of sugar, your oral pH level decreases due to an increase in plaque formation. This creates an acidic environment in your mouth that dissolves minerals and destroys enamel. Tiny holes can form in the teeth that contain bacteria and contribute to the spread of decay. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep your smile healthy without having to give up sugar altogether.
Tips to Protect Your Oral Health
Although your sugar intake should be kept to a minimum, you don’t need to stop eating it altogether. Here are some tips to minimize the effects and keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Eat sugar infrequently – The easiest way to prevent complications from sugar intake is to keep your consumption low. Take a close look at your diet and determine how much sugar is in the foods and drinks you consume. Soft drinks are a major culprit, along with candies and other sweet treats.
- Choose healthy snacks – If you find yourself snacking throughout the day, make the initiative to choose healthier options. Fresh fruits and veggies, yogurt, cheese, plain nuts, and similar snacks can satisfy without causing excess harm to your teeth.
- Stop smoking – If you smoke cigarettes, consider stopping for the benefit of your smile. Tobacco reduces saliva production which limits its ability to repair your teeth. Smoking is also bad for your general health.
- Follow an oral care routine – Having a strict oral healthcare routine is critical, especially if you eat sweets. Be sure to brush at least twice a day and floss daily. You want to limit the amount of time that sugar remains on your teeth. Take sips of water after consumption to help rinse out your mouth.
- Switch to xylitol – Xylitol is a type of sugar alcohol that tastes similar to regular sugar but does not contain acid-promoting qualities like regular sugar. It is commonly found in sugar-free candies, sugar-free gum, and some toothpastes.
Visit Our Experienced Dentists
Good dental health and wellness is based on many things, including your diet. Reducing your consumption of sugar, along with a proper oral healthcare routine and regular visits to your dentist for check-ups, can help ensure that your smile remains strong and beautiful. For more information about the effects of sugar on your teeth, or if you need to make an appointment, contact Bonham Dental Arts today.