How does sugar affect your oral health?

“Don’t eat sweets, or your teeth will all rot out” is a phrase you likely heard as a child. In reality, the damage that eating too much sugar can do to teeth should make everyone listen to that sage advice.

One thing is certain — sugar causes tooth decay. That said, sugar on its own is not the culprit. Rather, the chain of events that takes place afterward is to blame.

Your Mouth Is a Battleground

Many diverse types of bacteria live in your mouth. Some are beneficial to your dental health, but others are harmful.

The harmful bacteria feed on the sugar and carbohydrates that you eat, and together, they create acids. Acid-producing bacteria can do two things. First, they can destroy the enamel (shiny outer layer of your tooth). This process is called demineralization. If left untreated, they will generate cavities. They go into the deeper layers of your tooth, creating a hole, causing pain and possible tooth loss.

The good news is that your saliva helps to constantly reverse this damage in a natural process called remineralization. The minerals in your saliva, such as calcium and phosphate, in addition to fluoride from toothpaste and water, help the enamel repair itself by replacing minerals lost during an “acid attack.” This helps strengthen your teeth.

However, the repeated cycle of acid attacks causes mineral loss in the enamel. Over time, this weakens and destroys the enamel, forming a cavity.

Dietary Habits That Cause Tooth Decay

In recent years, researchers have found that certain food habits matter when it comes to the formation of cavities.

Consuming High-Sugar Snacks

Frequent snacking on foods high in sugar increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the dissolving effects of various acids, causing tooth decay.

Drinking Sugary and Acidic Beverages

The most common source of liquid sugar is sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and juices. In addition to sugar, these drinks have high levels of acids that can cause tooth decay.

Sipping on Sugary Beverages

If you constantly sip sugary drinks throughout the day, it is time to rethink that habit. This exposes your teeth to sugar for a longer time, giving the harmful bacteria more opportunity to do their damage.

Eating Sticky Foods

“Sticky foods” are those that provide long-lasting sources of sugar, such hard candies, breath mints and lollipops. Because you retain these foods in your mouth for longer, their sugars are gradually released. This gives the harmful bacteria in your mouth plenty of time to digest the sugar and produce more acid.

Tips to Fight Tooth Decay

Watch What You Eat and Drink

Make sure to eat a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. If you do eat sugary foods and sweetened or acidic beverages, have them with your meals, instead of between them. Also, consider using a straw when drinking sugary and acidic beverages. This will give your teeth less exposure to the sugar and acid in the drinks.

Cut Down on Sugar

Sugary and sticky foods should only be eaten occasionally. If you do indulge in sweet treats, drink some water — preferably tap water that contains fluoride — to help rinse out your mouth and dilute the sugar that sticks to the tooth surface.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Brushing at least twice per day with a fluoride toothpaste is a key step in preventing cavities and tooth decay. It is recommended to brush after each meal whenever possible and then again before you go to bed.

Visit the dentist

Lastly, nothing help keep your teeth and gums healthy like visiting your dentist every six months.

Taking good care of your teeth and practicing a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to win the battle against tooth decay. CallCollege Dental Surgerieson 01622 752340and book your routine dental appointment today.