What sugar really does to your teeth

Over the past couple of years sugar has been in the limelight, with a lot of column space dedicated to how it affects health, how common it is in everyday foods and what it’s like to quit sugar entirely.

Yet, for a long time even before sugar hijacked the health headlines, we understood that sugar poses a very real threat to teeth, contributing to a rise in decay.

How exactly does that happen? Here’s an insight into what sugar really does to your teeth.

A deep dive into decay

It’s interesting to note, sugar by itself does not actually affect your teeth. It’s what happens in the mouth when you consume it that does. And that all comes to the process of decay, which works like this…

The human mouth is full of a fascinating mix of bacteria, some of which is even considered good for our health.

However, certain harmful bacteria feed on the sugar we eat, creating acid. That acid then attacks the outer protective layer of the teeth, known as enamel. Ultimately it weakens and destroys parts of this enamel, creating a cavity.

If left untreated, cavities can go on to cause further decay inside the teeth leading to tooth pain and tooth loss.

The healthy mouth balance

Our teeth are under pretty consistent attack from acid, but your body is also busy fighting it. Acids weaken the enamel through a process known as demineralisation, which your body seeks to combat with remineralisation that helps strengthen the teeth.

Your saliva plays a crucial role here. It contains minerals like calcium and phosphates. When you consume a lot of sugar however, the body may not be able to keep up with the fight.

So how can you combat sugar?

Combatting sugar

In a world where sugar pops up everywhere – from breakfast cereals to soft drinks and even a “healthy” muesli bar – it’s pretty challenging to avoid it entirely, but there are ways to limit your consumption and minimise its impact on teeth.

These include:

Limiting sweet snacks and drinks – Lollies, sweets and soft drinks should definitely be considered a “sometimes food” at best.

Regular brushing – Good oral hygiene sees you brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes, using a fluoride toothpaste

Regular flossing – Almost half the surface of your teeth lies between them, making flossing at least once a day a non-negotiable.

Rinsing – If you have just consumed a soft drink or sweets, consider rinsing your mouth out with water immediately afterwards.

Stimulate saliva production – As saliva plays an important role in protecting teeth, chewing sugar free gum can be beneficial in stimulating it. This is especially useful for people with diabetes, dry mouth, or who breathe through their mouths regularly.

About Brite Dental

Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.

Offering a full range of dental services ranging, from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.

You can learn more about our dental services, or contact us to book your next appointment.