Harmful bacteria feed on sugar and produce acid in the mouth.
It’s no secret that sugar can cause serious damage to the teeth, but do you know what happens in your mouth when you eat something sweet? Your mouth is packed with many types of bacteria, some of which are harmful. Some of these harmful bacteria produce acid when they digest the sugar that you eat. In turn, these acids wear away the minerals from the tooth enamel in a process known as demineralisation. Fortunately, minerals that naturally occur in our saliva help to reverse the damage in a process known as remineralisation, but when the acid attacks occur too frequently, the enamel can become weak, and cavities can develop over time. Read on to find out more about the effects of sugar on your oral health and how you can keep your teeth strong and healthy…
What are cavities?
Cavities are holes that form in the teeth as a result of tooth decay. They occur when harmful bacteria digest the sugar that we eat and produce acids that wear away at the enamel of the teeth. If undetected and untreated, cavities can extend deep into the teeth and cause some very uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of tooth decay and cavities include toothache, pain when biting, and tooth sensitivity, particularly when consuming something hot, cold or sweet.
What dietary habits contribute to tooth decay?
While sugar causes tooth decay, certain habits can contribute to the development of cavities. Frequent snacking on sugary foods, for example, tends to increase one’s risk of tooth decay. This is because, with increased frequency, the teeth are exposed to the effects of harmful acids more often.
Drinking sugary beverages is another habit that can cause serious damage to the teeth. Some of the worst culprits include sodas, sports drinks and sweetened juices. These drinks all contain large amounts of sugar, as well as acid. These drinks can be particularly harmful if you sip on them throughout the day because this increases the amount of time for which the teeth are exposed to sugars and acids.
Snacking on sticky foods, such as candy and dried fruit, may also increase your risk of tooth decay. These foods tend to stay in the mouth for long periods, which gives harmful bacteria a lot of time to produce acid. This means that the demineralisation process can go on for prolonged periods.
How can you prevent tooth decay?
To maintain your oral health and prevent issues like tooth decay and cavities, you must make good dietary choices as much as possible. This means limiting your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks and eating as many whole foods as possible. Whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meat and dairy products are all good options as part of a balanced diet.
If you do enjoy the occasional sweet treat, rinse your mouth with water afterwards. This can help to get rid of leftover particles and wash away some of the sugars that may be stuck to the surface of your teeth.
Practising proper oral hygiene is also key when it comes to maintaining overall oral health. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss your teeth at least once a day. It is advisable to visit your dentist once every six months so that any issues can be identified and treated at an early stage, and your teeth can be professionally cleaned to remove plaque and tartar.
How can we help?
At Access Dental Care, we offer a range of general dentistry services designed to prevent serious health issues. We encourage our patients to come in and see us every six months. These appointments are a great opportunity to discuss any concerns that you might have, and our team is happy to answer any questions regarding your nutrition, oral hygiene techniques, or general oral health.
To arrange an appointment to see us, please get in touch with us here.