Everyone knows that sugar causes cavities and other dental problems, but few people truly understand why sugar does this. Sugar itself is not actually the reason why cavities develop, but it does play a major part in the destruction of your dental enamel. Here is a basic breakdown of the role sugar plays in your oral health.
Sugar is Food for Bacteria
While sugar does not directly damage your teeth, it is fuel for the bacteria that do. Your mouth is full of many different types of bacteria, some of which are actually good for you. However, the bad bacteria in the mouth eat sugar. When they digest it, it turns the sugar into a strong acid that eats away at the enamel. This demineralization process eventually leaves your teeth without that strong, protective layer. The acid then gets directly on the softer part of the tooth and, eventually, into the pulp.
Too Much Sugar Prevents Your Mouth from Protecting Itself
If you eat a little bit of sugar, such as a few cookies or a small slice of cake at a birthday party, your mouth can likely protect your teeth from the acid. Your saliva washes away the bacteria, while fluoride and other minerals help rebuild the enamel of your teeth. The problem, though, comes when you eat sugary foods or drink sugar-filled drinks regularly. Your body is not able to repair all of this damage. With more sugar, the bad bacteria in the mouth can create more and more acid. Eventually, your body can no longer keep up with the damage, and enamel becomes lost.
What Can You Do to Stop This?
The best thing to do is to limit your sugar intake. The less sugar you consume, the less fuel the bacteria have to create acid. Also be certain to brush and floss regularly. Finally, be certain you come in to see us every six months for an exam and a deep cleaning.