We have all been told by our parents growing up that eating too much sugar will rot your teeth out of your mouth. Although sugar is bad for your teeth, it’s not the only culprit that causes tooth decay or cavities. There is actually a chain reaction of events that proceed the consumption of sugar that causes these oral health issues.
In this blog, we will go through how sugar negatively affects your oral health and what you can do to prevent any major issues from happening.
Your mouth is host to various types of bacteria, some of which positively affect your oral health and others that are quite harmful. When you consume sugar, there is a select group of negative bacteria that produce acid in your mouth. In turn, the acid breaks down and eliminates minerals from the enamel.
While this process is bad for your oral health, the good news is that there is a remineralization process as your saliva is used to reverse the damage caused by the acid. Calcium and phosphate are minerals found in saliva, and when it’s paired with fluoride from your toothpaste, it helps repair and strengthen teeth.
If you consume a lot of sugar, the remineralization process might not be fast enough to repair the damage caused by the sugar, making your teeth highly susceptible to forming cavities. A cavity is essentially a hole in your tooth that was created by tooth decay. If you don’t treat a cavity, it could lead to tooth pain or even tooth loss.
If you are experiencing pain when chewing or you start developing sensitivity when consuming hot or cold food and drinks, you may be experiencing tooth decay.
The bad bacteria in your mouth are highly attracted to sugar. This includes bacteria like Streptococcus sobrinus and Streptococcus mutans. When these bacteria eat the sugar, they form dental plaque. Dental plaque is a colourless, sticky film that lives on the surface of your teeth. If this plaque isn’t properly taken care of, such as brushing or being washed away by drinking water, the acidity can become more powerful and you may start to develop cavities.
We all know that sugar can have negative effects on our teeth, but we might not be aware of some foods that are chock-full of sugar. Here are a few dietary habits that you need to be more aware of if you are trying to consume less sugar.
Tasty treats after lunch or dinner make us feel good, but they could be slowly affecting our oral health. Snacks like chips and cookies have shown to cause more cavities in children compared to other alternatives. When packing snacks for your children or yourself, aim for healthy but fulfilling options like nuts, crackers, and fruit.
Soft drinks are notorious for having a ton of sugar in them, but a few other beverages we all love have similar amounts. Beverages like sports drinks, juices and energy drinks all have a lot of sugar in them, as well as they all have high levels of acidity.
If you enjoy drinking these beverages, try limiting yourself to one or two a week and substitute water for the rest of the week. Not only will you have a higher chance of protecting your teeth, you will also be protecting your overall health!
Your Favourite Morning Hot Drink
If you love sipping a hot mug of coffee or tea in the morning, you could be affecting your oral health as well. If you don’t add any sugar to your beverage, you will be safer than if you add a few scoops of sugar to every cup. If you have two to three cups of coffee or tea and add sugar to all of them, you are consuming a lot of sugar, even though you might not be aware of it.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
If you are worried about tooth decay, you need to start implementing the following into your everyday routine.
Be mindful of what you consume
When eating a meal or binging on a snack, make sure you read the health labels to check how much sugar you are actually eating. If you are eating a lot of sugar, make sure you eat them with your meal instead of in between as your saliva can help break down the sugar more easily.
Limit your sugar intake
As mentioned above, sugary foods and drinks should only be enjoyed once in a while. This includes sticky foods, such as hard candy, lollipops and mints, as well.
Try to drink tap water as much as you can because it contains fluoride, which helps clean your mouth and dilute sugar.
Use Proper Oral Hygiene Techniques
The easiest way to ensure your gums and teeth are healthy is by maintaining your oral health care routine. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. You should also be keeping up with your scheduled dental appointments.
Getting your teeth professionally cleaned once or twice a year, depending on your needs, will have a positive impact on teeth and gums, and you have a higher chance of maintaining the integrity of your teeth.