Sugar is a common ingredient in many of the foods and drinks we consume. It is not only present in sweets and desserts but also in many packaged foods and drinks. While sugar may make our taste buds happy, it can also have harmful effects on our dental health. When we consume sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in our mouths produce acid that can erode the tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay and cavities.
If you know how sugar damages your teeth, you may be able to reduce some of its negative effects. Additionally, knowing how to avoid dental erosion and cavities can help you lower your risk of severe dental problems in the future.
How Sugar Damages Your Teeth
While it may be common knowledge that sugar can affect your health and damage your teeth, you may not know exactly how it works.
Many of the foods we eat contain sugar—either natural sugars or added artificial sweeteners. Each time we eat foods with sugar, we provide the bacteria in our mouths with a food source that allows them to multiply. As the bacteria eats the sugar, it creates acid as a byproduct.
This acid attacks the tooth enamel—the hard, outer layer of the teeth. Over time, the acid can cause the enamel to break down, leading to tooth decay and cavities.
Additionally, sugary foods and drinks can also stick to our teeth, providing a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. If you don’t remove the sugar by brushing and flossing, this can lead to plaque buildup. Unfortunately, this can further erode the tooth enamel and cause gum disease.
How to Minimize the Damage Done to Your Teeth by Sugar
There are several ways that you can reduce the damage to your enamel.
Brush and Floss Regularly
The best way to minimize the damage done to your teeth by sugar is to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss once a day to remove any food particles and plaque buildup that may have accumulated on your teeth.
Rinse Your Mouth with Water
After consuming sugary foods and drinks, rinse your mouth with water to help wash away any remaining sugar or acid. This can help to minimize the amount of time that the acid is in contact with your teeth.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
To minimize the effects of sugar, you can avoid sugar as best you can. Try to reduce your consumption of sugary foods and drinks, such as candy, soda, and fruit juice. Instead, opt for water or sugar-free drinks, and choose whole fruits over fruit juice. If you do consume sugary foods and drinks, try to have them with a meal to help neutralize the acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Another way that you can minimize the effects of sugar is to go to the dentist. During your regularly scheduled appointments, you will receive a dental cleaning. This process removes any plaque from your teeth or underneath your gumline. Overall, this can lower your chances of developing cavities or gum disease.