What Exactly Does Sugar Do to Your Teeth?
Whether it’s flashbacks to your childhood and hearing “sugar will make your teeth rot”, or a trip to the dentist with a gentle reminder to cut back on the sugary snacks and drinks, we have all heard that sugar is the bad guy when it comes to your teeth. However, have you ever stopped to wonder what exactly it is about sugar that is so harmful, or whether or not it actually is the bad guy? Your Spokane Dental team is here with ALL the answers of what exactly sugar does to your teeth, how “bad” it is, and how to protect your teeth.
Is sugar really bad?
Believe it or not, sugar itself is not the culprit for cavities. I know, you never would have guessed, right? The real bad guys when it comes to oral health are colonies of bad bacteria that live on the teeth and under the gums. This bad bacteria, if left on the teeth, contribute to gum disease, cavities, bone loss, and can even enter the blood stream and cause systemic inflammation!
So where exactly does sugar fit into the equation? Sugar and starchy carbohydrates are the food source for the bad bacteria. The bacteria feast on your feast, then excrete a byproduct that eats away at enamel, which is the protective hard outer layer of the tooth. You could say that sugar is not the bad guy but keeps the bad guy alive. This is why we tell you at the dentist to limit sugar and where the age old “sugar will make your teeth rot” adage stems from.
How to protect your teeth
When it comes to protecting your teeth from sugar, timing is everything. The more time and frequency that the bad bacteria in your mouth are allowed to feast on sugar and starchy carbohydrates, the more byproduct they will produce and the worst off your teeth will be. There are several ways that you can protect your teeth from sugar:
Drink through a straw:
Drinking through a straw helps bypass the teeth with a sugary drink. The delicious beverages that we partake in that normally contain sugar also have an added factor that compromises our teeth; acid. Acidic drinks compromise enamel surfaces, making them more susceptible to bad bacteria. Drinking your favorite sugary, acidic coffee or soda drink through a straw will help protect teeth.
Drink more water:
Water naturally cleanses the teeth and is a great tool to use throughout the day to protect your smile. Drinking more water after a meal, snack, or sugary drink will protect the teeth from bad bacteria, and also will help prevent and lesson to staining.
Sit down for meals:
Snacking throughout the day is one of the worst things you can do for your teeth. Many childhood cavities are caused by children snacking all day on starchy carbohydrates like goldfish crackers without letting their teeth have a break. Sitting down for a meal, finishing the whole thing, and then moving on with your day will protect your teeth.
Eat all the candy at once:
Solely from an oral health perspective, it would be better to eat a bunch of candy at once rather than spread it out over time. Like we mentioned, timing matters. This is why it would be better (again, only for your teeth), to eat all of your Halloween bounty in one sitting instead of spread out over time; less total time your teeth to be exposed to sugar.
The best thing you can do for your oral health is to take care of your smile at home, and partner with Spokane Dental for care custom for you. We can help you tackle any of your oral health problems, whether its suggestions to protect your teeth from your favorite soda, treating bleeding gums, or help with an achy tooth. Your Spokane Dental team is here for you, just a call away! (509)822-5614