How does sugar cause tooth decay?
Your dentist will tell you that eating too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, but are you aware of exactly how that happens? Rock House Dental Practice Wolverhampton would love to tell you.
You’ll be surprised to hear that it’s not actually the sugar itself that does the damage! The actual chain of events that takes place after you eat that piece of cake is what causes the most harm.
Bugs and bacteria in your mouth
The mouth is full of hundreds of bacteria, many of which are good bacteria and benefit the oral ecosystem. However, certain harmful oral bacteria actually feed on the sugars you eat from that piece of cake. It creates acids that dissolve and destroy the tooth enamel, which is the shiny, protective outer layer of your tooth. Cavities can eventually appear; bacterial infections created by acids cause your teeth to develop holes, and more bugs and bacteria propagate. It’s an endless cycle!
Without treatment, cavities can progress past the enamel and into the deeper layers of the tooth, causing pain and possible tooth loss. If this happens, visit your Dentist as soon as possible!
Luckily your saliva helps to replace the minerals lost and strengthens your teeth because it contains key minerals like calcium. Fluoride is another mineral that helps to repair the teeth, this, as you know, is found in toothpaste.
However, replacing lost minerals can only do so much to prevent the effects of sugar on teeth if you eat lots of sweets and starches throughout the day. Limiting your sugar intake is vital if you want to give your mouth a fighting chance to fix the damage.
Tips to minimise decay
So all of the above sounds pretty scary but it can happen if you do not take care of your teeth. Here are a few tips to avoid those nasty cavities:
- Visit your dentist regularly so we can ensure your teeth are healthy or advise on steps to improve your oral hygiene. Regularly have a dental examination, to identify problems early
- Visit the dental hygienist to make sure plaque and calculus buildups are kept to a minimum.
- Stimulate the saliva flow in your mouth. Sugar-free chewing gum is a good way of doing this
- Avoid snacking
- Drink soft drinks only in moderation if at all.
- Use a straw so your teeth are less exposed to the sugar and acid in the drink.
- Take a drink of water, preferably fluoridated, after a sugary or acidic drink to rinse out your mouth and dilute the sugars.
- Protect your teeth by using fluoride toothpaste. Also, after drinking sugary or acidic drinks, don’t brush your teeth straight away. Wait at least one hour so your teeth can recover and your enamel can harden before you brush them.
- Do not sip a sugary drink slowly over a long duration. Doing so exposes your teeth to sugar and acid attacks for longer.
- Never drink sugary or acidic drinks before you go to bed – if you do so the liquid will pool in your mouth, coating your teeth with sugar and acid.
- High Acidity Drinks – Soft Drinks, Diet Soft Drinks, Sports Drinks – Drink rarely (if at all).
- Medium Acidity Drinks – Fruit juice – Drink occasionally.
- Low Acidity Drinks – Water, Milk – Drink plenty.