We all know that we are supposed to limit our sugar intake, for the sake of our overall health as well as our dental health, but we do not often discuss just how sugar leads to tooth decay. Read on to learn how those sweets rot your teeth.
How does sugar cause cavities?
Sugar itself is not actually the perpetrator in tooth decay, but rather the fuel that the bacteria in our mouths feed on to create plaque and acids that damage the enamel of the teeth. Once the enamel is worn away, the next layer inside the tooth, the dentin, is exposed to bacteria and decay, which leads to a cavity. If the decay continues to dissolve the dentin and reach the inner layer of the tooth, the pulp, it will lead to pain and can even result in tooth loss. Severe tooth decay like this will often necessitate the use of root canal therapy and a dental crown.
What can I do to limit the effects of sugar on my teeth?
It’s too simplistic to say that you ought to eliminate sugar in your diet entirely, because most foods and drink contain some form of sugar or starch (starches contribute to tooth decay in the same way as sugar does). You can still control the amount of sugar (and starch) that you consume and limit the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the acids that are byproducts of the bacteria feeding on sugar by following the following recommendations:
- Check food labels for “hidden” sugars – those ingredients that end in ‘-ose.’
- Restrict the number of snacks between meals. Each time you snack, you expose your teeth to the damaging acids.
- Swap sodas and sugary drinks for water.
- Instead of candies, try healthy snacks like cheese, fruits, and peanut butter.
- Look for sugar-free gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
In addition to the steps recommended above, it’s important to schedule regular cleanings and checkups with the team at Arlington Dental Excellence for you and the whole family. This allows our dentists to see any signs of tooth decay early and early detection simplifies treatment.
Schedule your next appointment with our friendly team today!