People often joke about sugar being bad for their teeth. “That’s a cavity waiting to happen!” Someone is bound to say as they add sugar to their coffee, or a child enjoys their candy. But is it a myth, or is it true that sugar affects your teeth?
The Science Behind the One Liners
Sugar does have a connection to the formation of cavities. Sugar isn’t bad on its own, but eating or drinking something with sugar in it, can cause sugar to react with the saliva and bacteria in your mouth. The result is what we call plaque. Plaque is a sticky colorless film that forms on the surface of your teeth and deteriorates your enamel, the hard outer layer of your teeth. This can create cavities.
The Fight Against Cavities
Your body is amazing and it does it’s best to fight cavities on its own. In fact, your saliva is constantly working to neutralize the PH balance of your mouth prevent damage to your teeth. How sugar affects your teeth is that it fights to throw off that balance. Too much sugar, too often, can tip the scale and be too much for your body to handle. This can result in your teeth decaying so that cavities, or small holes, form in the enamel of your teeth.
Not Just Your Teeth
The way sugar interacts with the bacteria in your mouth can also affect your gums. Gum disease, if left untreated, can progress to periodontitis which affects the bones beneath your gums that hold your teeth in place, resulting in tooth loss.
The Good News
The good news about how sugar affects your teeth is that knowledge is power and there are things you can do about it. Brushing 3 times a day or after meals and snacks, as well as flossing and using mouthwash daily, can help to clean away bacteria and plaque and prevent tooth decay and gum disease caused by sugar. Following a sugary treat with water can also help to wash away the food debris that can contribute to tooth decay.
Limiting sugar intake and looking for healthier alternatives can also minimize your risk. Sugar can become addictive because it can cause blood glucose levels to spike quickly and then drop, resulting in more sugar cravings. Eating more sugar is only a temporary fix, though.
Choosing healthy alternatives when you’re craving something sweet or need an energy boost can be helpful. Fresh fruit is a great option for a sweet snack. Sugar free varieties of snacks or drinks can also be a way you can limit your sugar intake and minimize how sugar affects your teeth. If you’re needing a snack with an energy boost, foods that are high in protein like nuts or whole grains can provide a longer lasting effect.
How sugar affects your teeth and what you can do about it is also a great topic to bring up with your dentist on your next visit as they may have helpful suggestions for alternative options and ways to protect your teeth and gums from the negative impacts of sugar.
Call our Dowagiac, MI dental office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.