The Effects of Sugar on Teeth

With springtime here and the Easter season moving into full swing, young people (and more than a few adults!) around the country are looking forward to celebrating with chocolate rabbits and marshmallow chicks. While those treats may be delicious, they’re full of sugar. As most of us have been told since childhood, sugar isn’t the best thing for your teeth. But what exactly does sugar do to your mouth? Is it really that bad for your teeth? What can you do to prevent or mitigate the damage that sugar does? Let’s go over that here, before the annual Easter basket arrives!

What Sugar Does

Sugar is an attractive food to all sorts of critters, including the bacteria who live in your mouth. While many of those bacteria are beneficial and help keep your teeth and gums healthy, some bacteria can actually damage your teeth. Feeding yourself sugar also feeds them sugar, which fuels their population growth. Harmful bacteria are especially bad when they attack the enamel layer on your teeth. Enamel is the shiny outer layer that makes your smile bright and protects your teeth from harm. Harmful bacteria can cause holes in enamel called cavities, which can punch through the enamel and into the softer layers of the tooth below. If this damage isn’t corrected, it can lead to tooth pain or even tooth loss.

How do bacteria cause cavities? Well, harmful bacteria produce a great deal of acid, which strips away the minerals that give enamel its strength. Harmful bacteria produce these acids as they process the sugars they absorb when you eat sugary or starchy foods. Unaddressed, the acids build up in your mouth and eventually wear away the enamel on your teeth.

Preventing Sugar’s Damage

The good news is, even while bacteria and their acids demineralize your teeth, your body is working to remineralize them—and you can help! Your mouth’s saliva plays a key role in restoring lost minerals to your teeth. You can help it work by avoiding sugary or starchy food in favor of fruits and veggies. Adding more dairy to your diet helps add minerals like calcium which are good for your teeth and help keep them strong. Some foods even help repress the growth of harmful bacteria—green tea is especially good for this and it can be pretty tasty too!

More active treatments include fluoride. Your dentist may give you a fluoride treatment as part of a check-up or cleaning, which does a lot to strengthen your teeth and prevent damage. You can help by using a fluoride enriched toothpaste as part of your regular brushing and flossing regimen. Speaking of brushing and flossing: a regular routine of brushing and flossing, particularly after meals, is the single best thing you can do for your oral health. Proper brushing and flossing remove debris, keeps harmful bacteria in check, and goes a long way towards keeping your smile bright and healthy for a lifetime.

We’re Here to Help

Plage Dentistry knows Easter candy is fun—just like Halloween candy or holiday candy! However, we’re here to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. So while we encourage you to enjoy seasonal celebrations, we also want you to keep brushing, flossing, and eating healthy. A big part of oral health is regular oral health care, and our team of professionals is here to work with you to attain those goals. Get in touch today and we’ll schedule an appointment as soon as possible.