Even as children, we are taught that sugar is bad for our teeth. However, it is not always clear why this is the case. Bacteria, it turns out, are the culprit. What else should you know about the effects of sugar on your teeth?
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There’s a Lot Going On in Your Mouth
Your mouth, in particular, is teeming with bacteria. They frequently serve a purpose, such as breaking down food and debris. In this way, they contribute to the health of your teeth and gums.
There are some dangerous bacteria present. Good bacteria fight against bad bacteria, as do many other systems in the body, keeping both sides in check. However, this does not prevent the harmful bacteria from feeding on sugar.
Bacterial Reactions to Sugar
Sugar is a food source for certain bacteria in the mouth. When they do, an acid is produced that can harm the enamel on your teeth. Saliva washes away a trace of acid before it becomes a problem.
Eating a lot of sugar means there’s more for bacteria to feed on, which leads to more acid. When it exceeds the amount that saliva can wash away, it forms plaque on the teeth.
The continuous cycle of acid assaults on your teeth causes mineral loss in the enamel; over time, this acid weakens and destroys the enamel, resulting in decay and cavity formation.
If the cavity is not treated, it can spread into the deeper layers of the tooth, causing pain and possibly tooth loss. Tooth decay symptoms include a toothache, pain when chewing, and sensitivity to sweet, hot, or cold foods and drinks.
The pH of the mouth is altered by sugar.
The PH scale determines how acidic or basic something is, such as the environment inside the mouth. Sugar disturbs the natural pH there because bacteria feed on it and produce acid, causing a pH shift from normal to more acidic. This imbalance encourages the growth of more harmful bacteria in the mouth. Sugar, in this way, attracts the wrong kind of bacteria.
Isn’t not all sugar created equal?
Sugar is commonly associated with candy, soda, sweet energy drinks, and juice. Sugar can also refer to carbohydrates found in processed foods like potato chips or crackers.
Focus your diet on the following foods for a healthier mouth:
- Grain (whole)
- Fruits that are fresh
These foods help to reduce the amount of sugar you consume while also providing nutrients that help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Calcium, for example, found in dairy products, aids in the strengthening of enamel.
Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly raw ones, stimulates your body’s production of saliva. This will assist in washing away any acid produced by bacteria and preventing plaque build-up.
If you must consume a sugary beverage on occasion, consider drinking it through a straw. This keeps the sugar away from the teeth.
Along with these dietary changes, visit your nearest Ideal Dental on a regular basis for professional teeth cleaning. This removes tartar, which is plaque that builds up and hardens on the teeth. Find your nearest Ideal Dental office and make an appointment today.