What Sugar Really Does to Your Teeth

Sugar and your teeth

Everyone knows that consuming too much sugar can be bad for your health. However, few understand the significant impact that it can have on your teeth. A high-sugar diet is directly related to tooth decay and can contribute to a wide range of oral health problems, such as gum disease and enamel loss. It can also lead to unsightly plaque buildup on teeth.

At Bonham Dental Arts, we are committed to educating families on how to properly care for their smiles. In addition to cutting down on sugar and brushing regularly for proper dental health and wellness, it is important to regularly visit a dentist. The dentists at Bonham Dental in Largo, FL are proud to offer restorative, cosmetic, and family dentistry services that help protect your teeth against the damaging effects of sugar.

How Tooth Decay Develops

Tooth decay refers to the softening of tooth enamel that causes damage to the tooth structure. The mouth contains hundreds of bacteria, many of which are essential for a healthy oral ecosystem. However, the mouth also contains some bad bacteria that feed on the sugars you eat. When bacteria and sugar combine, they create acids that destroy tooth enamel.

Tooth enamel is the outer surface layer of a tooth. While considered the hardest mineral substance in the body, the enamel is susceptible to wear over time, diminishing its ability to protect against tooth decay. If acids in the mouth continue to eat away at the enamel, a cavity or hole in the tooth can develop. Without treatment, cavities can grow larger over time and eventually destroy the entire tooth.

Sugar and Your Oral Health

Sugar itself is not to blame for tooth decay. Instead, it is the acids that are created from the breakdown of sugar in the mouth. Poor oral health can fast-track the tooth decay process. When you fail to brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, you’re inviting bacteria to feast on the sugar in your mouth. Establishing a consistent oral healthcare routine is essential to minimize the effects of harmful plaque and bacteria.

While too much sugar can be bad for your teeth, you don’t need to cut sugar out of your diet altogether. Refined or processed sugar, such as the kind found in potato chips, candy, pre-packaged snacks, and soda should be avoided. Ideally, these foods should be substituted with healthier options like fresh fruit, leafy greens, nuts, and cheese. Also, drink plenty of water to promote saliva production which helps wash away bacteria.

The Fight Against Tooth Decay

Despite your best efforts to keep bad bacteria in your mouth at bay, your teeth are always under attack from acids. However, this damage is also always being reversed. In a process called remineralization, the minerals that are leeched from the teeth by acids are replaced. Salvia aids in the remineralization process as it contains minerals like calcium and phosphates that help repair teeth.

Fluoride can also help in the rebuilding of tooth enamel. When you drink water containing fluoride or use toothpaste with fluoride, it creates a powerful defense system that helps prevent cavities from forming. If you do not think that you’re getting enough fluoride from water and over-the-counter oral healthcare products alone, ask your dentist about fluoride treatments that can be applied in our office.

Reduce the Impact of Sugar on Teeth

While indulging in sweet treats is okay on occasion, it is important to minimize your exposure to unhealthy sugars. There are a number of changes you can make to lessen the effects of acids and sugars on your teeth. These include:

  • Consuming sugary drinks in moderation. Drinking beverages like soda and juice can drastically increase your chances of cavities and tooth decay. Only drink sugary drinks in small amounts on occasion and not as part of your regular diet.
  • Sipping sugary drinks with a straw. If you choose to consume a sugary drink, drink it with a straw. This will help lessen the effect of the sugars as the straw helps the liquid bypass your teeth.
  • Drinking water directly after sugar. After consuming sugar, drink water immediately after. This will help rinse your mouth and can help dilute active sugars.

Need to find a dentist? Bonham Dental Arts offers a wide range of services to help restore and maintain your smile, such as dental crowns, implants, crowns, and CEREC dental. Largo FL dentists at Bonham Dental welcome new and returning patients. Contact us today to schedule your first consultation!