What Does Sugar Do to Teeth?

Almost everyone has heard “candy will rot your teeth,” but fewer people know exactly how sugar promotes tooth decay. You may be surprised to learn that sugar isn’t what’s rotting your teeth. Rather, it’s the chain of events that takes place in your mouth after you eat that ice cream cone or piece of cake.

To understand how sugar affects the teeth, it helps to learn a little more about your mouth. The human mouth is filled with bacteria, some of which is good, and some not so good. As you eat something sweet, the bad bacteria on your teeth release acids to break down the sugar. These acids can dissolve the tooth enamel and leech minerals from it, as the saliva in your mouth bathes the teeth and remineralizes and strengthens them. However, saliva can only do so much to replace lost minerals, particularly if you eat a lot of sweets and starchy foods throughout the day. If you’re not brushing and flossing your teeth on top of it, you’re creating the perfect storm in your mouth and leaving yourself highly susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay.

The most effective way to maintain a healthy balance in your mouth and remineralize tooth enamel is to cut down on sugar, particularly between meals and before bedtime, or any time when you cannot brush your teeth in the next few hours. Another effective way to minimize the damage sugar causes is by stimulating your saliva flow. Some good foods to promote salivation include fibrous veggies, dairy products, and green or black teas (without added sugar, of course!). Chewing sugarless gum can also effectively stimulate more saliva flow.

Without good oral hygiene, you invite bacteria in your mouth to feast on the sugar left on your teeth and produce more harmful acids. You can also minimize the damage sugar does to your teeth by limiting your sugar intake, stimulating saliva flow, practicing good brushing and flossing habits, and regularly seeing your dentist for checkups and cleanings.

Dial (770) 467-3888 today to schedule your dental cleaning and checkup at Austell Dental Associates! You can also reach us online for further information.


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