You’ve likely heard it as a child or, if you’re a parent, you may be saying this to your children: “Don’t eat too much sugar, it’s bad for your teeth!” As dentists in NW Calgary, a good portion of our patient’s dental care is educating them on how to maintain healthy teeth and gums – and that includes avoiding sugary treats and starchy food.
For something that is extremely emphasized in the dental world, it helps to know why sugar is bad for your teeth. Here’s what happens with our teeth when we do consume sugar.
Sugar leads to tooth decay
Our mouths are full of bacteria, some good bacteria and some that are harmful. Whenever we eat sugary food, plaque (the harmful bacteria) on our teeth interacts with the sugar molecules to creates acids that attack the protective tooth enamel. When left on teeth, plaque dissolves the enamel, leading to cavities. While some believe that sugar is the culprit, it’s actually the acid produced from eating sugar that causes tooth decay.
Naturally, our mouth has a natural process of demineralization, which reverses the damage caused by sugar. Saliva plays a critical role in restoring and strengthening our teeth as it contains essential minerals such as calcium and phosphates. Another mineral that can repair our teeth is fluoride, which is why Calgary NW dentists always recommend using fluoride toothpaste. This leads us to our next important point…
The remineralization process becomes a challenge when you consume too much sugar
Brushing with fluoride toothpaste right after eating a sugary snack combined with the natural remineralization of our mouths should be enough to beat cavities, right? Not quite. While brushing and flossing twice a day helps maintain strong teeth and gums, consuming sugar often makes the remineralization process a challenge. If you’re eating a lot of starches and sweets, there’s only so much that fluoride toothpaste and our saliva can do to combat the acids. This is why it’s so important to limit the number of starchy foods and sweets we eat, along with our daily dental hygiene habits. When we avoid sugary foods as much as possible, we allow our mouth to do its natural job to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Sugary food can lead to gum disease
When cavities are left untreated, the decay can advance into potential tooth loss and pain. Gum disease is typically caused by plaque built up on the teeth that harden into tartar, which eventually leads to an infection of the tissue that holds your teeth in place. Again, while brushing and flossing can remove some of this plaque, prevention is key and that means limiting the amount of sugar and starch we consume.