The consumption of sugar contributes to oral health issues like tooth decay and cavities.
It’s no secret that too much sugar isn’t good for our overall health. When it comes to enjoying sweet treats, moderation is key. And it’s not just our general health that suffers from the effects of sugary foods and drinks — our oral health can also be severely damaged by poor dietary choices. Read on to find out how sugar affects the teeth, and what you can do to prevent issues like tooth decay and cavities in the long term…
What happens when you eat sugar?
The mouth is packed with bacteria, and while some types benefit our oral health, certain types can cause more harm than good. In fact, some of the bacteria in our mouths produce harmful acids whenever they digest sugar. These acids damage the teeth by removing minerals from the enamel in a process known as demineralisation. Although minerals in our saliva help to replace lost minerals and strengthen the teeth, frequent acid attacks can weaken the enamel quite considerably, and eventually lead to tooth decay and cavities.
How does sugar attract bacteria?
The harmful types of bacteria that are found in the mouth feed on the sugars that you consume in sweet foods and drinks. When these bacteria encounter and digest sugars, dental plaque forms on the surface of the teeth and along the gum line. Dental plaque is a sticky film that coats the teeth and gums, causing the environment in the mouth to become more acidic. It is important that you remove plaque with regular brushing and flossing — if it is left to accumulate, it can do serious damage to the teeth as it damages the enamel and causes cavities to develop over time.
What dietary habits should be avoided?
Consuming too many sugary foods and drinks can cause serious damage to the teeth, but studies show that the frequency of snacking also plays a role in the development of tooth decay and cavities. If you snack on sweet foods often throughout the day, your teeth will be exposed to the detrimental effects of sugar for longer periods of time.
Sugary and acidic drinks, such as sodas, energy drinks and juices, should be enjoyed in moderation only as these can be particularly harmful to the teeth. If you do drink a sweet or acidic beverage, try to do so in one sitting and rinse your mouth with water afterwards— sipping on a sugary drink for an extended period puts you at an even greater risk of cavities as your teeth will be exposed to the sugar and acids for a long time and gives the bacteria plenty of opportunity to attack the teeth.
How can you take care of your teeth?
For the sake of your oral health, it is best that you limit your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks. Try to stick to a diet that is healthy and balanced — eat plenty of whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and dairy products.
It is also very important that you practice proper oral hygiene on a daily basis. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss every day. It is advisable that you see your dentist for a check-up and clean every six months so that they can check for any early signs of tooth decay before you experience any painful symptoms.
How can we help?
At Integra Dental, we believe in the importance of preventative dental care, which is why we encourage all of our patients to practice proper oral hygiene at home, and to stick to a healthy, balanced diet. We also urge our patients to come in and see us for regular check-ups and cleans so that we can identify and resolve any potential issues before they become more complicated in the future.
Our team of experienced dentists and hygienists offer the full spectrum of general dentistry services, including routine check-ups, scales and cleans. These appointments are very important when it comes to maintaining your oral health and hygiene in the long-term, and we recommend that you schedule them every six months in order to avoid any major damage to your teeth.
If you would like you find out more about our general dentistry services, please have a look here.
If you would like to book an appointment, please contact us here.