Why is Sugar So Bad for Your Teeth?
Every kid’s worst nightmare comes true when their parents say “no more sugar!” Usually the goal is to avoid a sugar high, but cutting out the sweet stuff protects tooth enamel, too. We as adults aren’t off the hook, either. No matter how old you are, consuming high amounts of sugar leads to tooth decay. Brushing & flossing regularly reduce your risk of developing cavities, but it isn’t a guarantee. Reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks is the best way to protect your teeth.
Bacteria are snackin’ on your sweet treats and taking your tooth enamel with them
So how exactly do these bacteria cause cavities? One particular type of bacteria commonly found in the mouth is Streptococcus mutans, and its main nutrient source is sugar. As it feasts on your food, S. mutans converts those sweets into acids. For the same reason your consumption of citrus fruits like lemons and limes should be limited, these acid products eat away at tooth enamel. Once it’s gone, that protective enamel won’t come back. That means your teeth are wide open and ready to get cavities. The more sugar you eat, the more food bacteria like S. mutans has, and the higher your odds of getting a filling are at your next dental appointment.
Even not-so-sweet foods contribute to decay
Without going into detail on the chemistry, foods like bread and pasta are made of lots of sugar molecules. That means more food for the bacteria in your mouth. Carbohydrates are very common in the American diet, so it’s understandable that cavities are common, too. For many it’s unrealistic to cut carbohydrates out of their diets completely. The better solution is to make sure to brush at least twice a day, especially after meals. If you’re at high risk for developing cavities, or if your prevention strategies just aren’t working, talk to your dentist about getting protective sealants on your teeth. These could be the extra cavity-fighting tool you need to keep your teeth safe. Before anything else, though, make sure you’re keeping that sweet tooth at bay! The answer is simple: fewer sweets=less sugar on your teeth=healthier smile.