We’ve been told for ages that sugar causes cavities, but why? Is sugar really as bad as they say? Turns out there is a lot of truth behind to the “no sugar rule” – and following it might just save you quite a bit of money.
What does sugar do to your teeth?
The mouth is full of bacteria, but bacteria aren’t always bad! Some greatly benefit the oral ecosystem. However, certain harmful bacteria use the sugar you eat to sustain itself, creating acids that wreak havoc on your tooth enamel (or the outer protective layer of your tooth). As these acids wear down on your enamel, it begins to create a hole, or cavity.
How does this affect you?
As these acids wear down your enamel, they can expose the dentin of your tooth—a soft layer with microscopic tubules that allow direct access to the nerve. Unfortunately, you cannot regrow your tooth enamel, and exposing the dentin will create hypersensitivity and pain. Eventually, should the tooth decay worsen and go untreated, it could lead to tooth loss.
However, this isn’t the only reason to lay off the sweets. Research has proven that there is a direct correlation between the amount of sugar consumed and the amount of money spent on dental care. For every 2 tablespoons of additional sugar consumed per person a day (which is about one glass of lemonade), the costs of dental treatment increases by an average of 100 dollars per year!
How can you prevent the damage of sugar on your teeth?
The tricky thing about sugar is that it isn’t only hiding in candy, sodas, and all things sweet. There is a lot of added sugar in many foods you wouldn’t expect, such as low-fat yogurt, BBQ sauce, ketchup, spaghetti sauce, canned soup, baked beans, and more! That said, while everyone is at risk of tooth decay, children and adolescents are the most at risk. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this damage:
- Brush your teeth within 20 minutes after eating sugar. Acids created by bacteria tend to do the most damage to your teeth after 20 minutes of eating sugar. Be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly right after every meal to prevent the deteriorating effects.
- Chew gum. Saliva is very important in helping your mouth to create minerals that protect your teeth. Try chewing sugarless gum to boost your saliva production.
- Eat fibrous vegetables, fruits, and dairy products. Fruits and veggies are great for boosting your saliva production, while dairy products (such as cheese and yogurt) contain calcium and phosphates that strengthen your teeth. Try replacing your sugary snacks with these healthier options.
- Drink tea. Green and black teas can help you to eliminate harmful oral bacteria. Add a cup of tea (without sugar) to your daily routine to help maintain a healthier mouth.
- Drink fluoridated water. Fluoride prevents tooth decay and even reverses it in its earliest stages. Drink plenty of fluoridated water to help boost your oral health.
- Limit your intake. Of course, the best way to suppress the damage of sugars to your teeth is to minimize the amount you eat. Check your food labels for hidden sugars and avoid sugary foods that stay in your mouth for a long time (such as hard candies).
Regular dental check-ups are the best way to limit the damage of tooth decay and boost your oral health. To reduce the damage of your sugar intake, schedule an appointment with your dentist at Countryside Dental Group today!