We all know that indulging your sweet tooth too often can lead to cavities and other teeth and gum issues, but do you know why sugar is so bad for your teeth? The natural sugars found in fruits are very different from the refined ones found in candy and ice cream, too. Understanding the many ways sugary foods impact your oral health can make it easier to take better care of your mouth, and even lead to better overall health and less tooth decay.
A Bacteria Bonanza
Our mouths are uniquely suited to handle the foods and drinks we put into our body through a balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria and our saliva. Typically, our saliva can fight against mild tooth decay and prevent the loss of enamel. However, sugary foods create a different scenario. The bacteria in our mouths love these foods and when you eat them, the bacteria feast, creating plaque and producing acid that leads to tooth decay.
Harmful bacteria get an even bigger boost from a dose of sugar by causing gingivitis and gum disease. The sugars attract these tiny bacteria that get to work on damaging your oral health.
Not All Sugars are Created Equal
There’s sugar in nearly everything we eat, from apples to cookies to processed foods to soda and fruit juice, which makes it nearly impossible to avoid it entirely. Each type of sugar affects the mouth in different ways, too, and not all equally, which is just another reason why sugar is so bad for your teeth.
Every time you consumer sugary foods or drinks, you’re exposing your mouth to the risk of tooth decay, and often our mouths can’t fend off the effects of sugar alone. Solid sugars, for example, leave a sticky residue on your teeth that your saliva can’t remove itself. The more sugary foods you eat, the more time your teeth are exposed to the bad effects of solid sugars. Only brushing, flossing, or rinsing with mouthwash can remove this film.
While candy and processed foods might not be great for your oral health, sugary drinks are even worse. Drinks like soda contain high fructose corn syrup, which wreaks havoc on your entire mouth by coating it in a sticky film that feeds bad bacteria that cause cavities. The addition of acid found in sugary drinks makes them even worse for teeth because it causes irreversible erosion.
Paying attention to your diet can make a big difference in your oral health, but don’t forget that routine cleanings are part of a healthy mouth. Keeping up to date on dental visits is one more tool in the fight against sugar.