It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that overdoing it with sugar can damage your teeth. But, understanding exactly what sugar is doing to your oral health is an integral part of preventing any further damage. For starters, it’s not sugar alone that causes damage to your teeth, it’s the chain of events that happen after you eat that donut.
Your mouth is full of hundreds of bacteria, the majority of which are actually good for you and help to maintain the natural ecosystem in your mouth. Though, there are some harmful bacteria lingering in there as well; bacteria that feeds on sugar, creating acids that destroy the enamel on teeth. In case you don’t already know, enamel is the shiny protective layer that coats your teeth.
These acids produced by the sugar-eating bacteria can cause cavities, which are essentially bacterial infections in teeth. When they’re not properly treated, the holes created by cavities can progress deeper into the tooth, eventually causing pain and possible tooth loss.
The On-Going War in Your Mouth
Acids are relentlessly attacking your teeth. But, there’s good news: the damage they cause is constantly being reversed. These unwelcome enamel attackers deprive tooth enamel of essential minerals, in a process often referred to as demineralization. Luckily, the natural process of remineralization replenishes those minerals and helps to reinforce the tooth’s strength.
Your nutrient-rich saliva helps this process along, aiding in tooth repair. Fluoride can also help to repair weakened enamel. Though, replenishing vitamins and minerals in your tooth enamel can only do so much when you’re consuming sweets and starches throughout the day. You have to limit your sugar intake if you want to give your enamel a chance at survival.
How to Repair the Damage
According to the experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center, there are several ways to prevent cavities and maintain the integrity of your enamel. Along with reducing your sugar intake, stimulating saliva will help to bathe the teeth in minerals. You can accomplish this by chewing sugar-free gum and adding fibrous fruits and vegetables to your diet. In addition, dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and dairy products contain phosphates that can help to strengthen teeth, and can be much wiser choices for snacks. Green or black teas also make great additions to your daily routine, since they contain substances that help to suppress harmful oral bacteria. Incorporating these herbal beverages into your daily routine can help to maintain a healthy balance in the mouth, as long as you forgo any added sugars.
Last but not least, fluoride is a popular mineral known for its ability to prevent tooth decay and reverse it in its early stages. Drinking plenty of fluoridated water and choosing an ADA approved fluoride toothpaste will help to clean out sugar-dependent germs for a limited amount of time. Additionally, the ADA recommends that you also receive periodic fluoride treatments from a dentist.
Staying on top of your daily oral care and taking steps in the right direction will play an important role in preventing the negative effects of sugar on teeth. Encouraging your kids to eat less sugary foods, brush vigilantly to remove harmful plaque, and add healthy foods that help to strengthen their enamel will ensure that they have a strong foundation for healthy teeth.