Sugar and Your Teeth: Six Things You and Your Family Need To Know

Is sugar bad for your teeth?

Is sugar bad for your teeth?

Sugar is present naturally and artificially in the foods and drinks we consume on a daily basis. However, we need to be careful of how much sugar we consume because sugar can cause tooth decay.

Tooth decay can lead to dental caries, which is when acid forms in the mouth and attacks the outside layer of the tooth—the enamel. The acid can eat away at the enamel, causing holes in the teeth, creating cavities.

When sugar is consumed in the foods we eat, it interacts with the bacteria that is normally found in the mouth. That then creates plaque, which is a thin, sticky film that forms over teeth, and it slowly eats away at the enamel of the teeth as well.

So what can a parent do to make sure their child’s teeth, and theirs, stay healthy? Here are the six things you need to know about sugar and teeth.

1. The Difference Between Processed and Natural Sugar

Not all sugars are created equal. There is a difference between sugars that appear naturally in foods like fruits, and processed sugar that appears in food items like sweets and other snacks. Processed or refined sugar is something people should stay away from because it isn’t naturally occurring sugar. That means that it increases the normal sugar intake and increases the acid in your mouth, and that can create more plaque.

2. Frequency Over Quantity

While you don’t need to cut sugar out of your diet completely, the frequency with which you consume sugar is what matters. The more often sugar is consumed, the more of a chance it has to turn into acid and become plaque, which can cause dental caries and cavities. If you can’t brush your teeth within a half hour of consuming sugar, make sure to at least rinse your mouth out with water to help balance the pH of your mouth.

3. Sticky Sugars

The worst type of sugars for your teeth are the kind that are sticky—think gummy candy or caramel. This is because these types of sugars stick to the teeth and linger, making it easier for bacteria to eat away at the enamel of your teeth.

4. The Real Enemy: Sugary Drinks

Many things we drink every day have sugars in them, including soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks. The problem with these drinks is that we often sip on them all day long, meaning our mouths are exposed to sugars over the course of an entire day, giving them more time to eat away at our teeth. Instead of sipping away on sugar drinks, try to limit those to meal times, and instead, sip on water throughout the day.

5. Timing of Sugar Consumption

Instead of consuming sugar as a snack or in the middle of the day, try to have foods and drinks with sugar at meal times only. This way, you limit the time sugar and bacteria are hanging out in your mouth. Make a habit of brushing your teeth about a half hour after you eat meals to help brush away all the bad sugars and bacteria in your mouth.

6. Protective Habits

It is hard to avoid sugar, and we can’t always brush our teeth after we eat, especially if we are out, or at someone else’s home. If that is the case, there are steps you can take to help protect your teeth from sugar damage. One way is by eating a slice of cheese after you eat. Dairy helps to neutralize sugars and balance the pH in the mouth. Rinsing your mouth out with water after you are finished eating can also help with balancing the pH in your mouth.

Prevent dental caries and cavities with great oral health habits.

One of the best ways to keep your dental health in check is by practicing great oral habits. That means brushing your teeth at least twice a day for a minimum of two minutes each time. Another good oral habit tip is flossing at least once a day to make sure that all food particles and bacteria are removed from in between your teeth.

Another key to good oral health is visiting the team at Sensational Smiles in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a dental checkup and evaluation at least twice a year, or every six months. A dental checkup can be thought of as a preventative measure where our team can address minor issues before they become major problems. If you haven’t seen us in six months, give Sensational Smiles a call today to schedule your appointment.