The Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth and Why It’s Bad for You

Even though brushing your teeth twice a day is a great beginning, oral health involves much more. Knowing the symptoms of developing gum or tooth disease as well as scheduling routine dental appointments are both crucial. In addition, you can also use products to help you fight bad breath.

Your diet is another thing to take into account. Although most people are aware that sugar causes cavities, they are unaware of the other reasons it harms teeth. The bacteria that love to feed on sugar are the problem, not the sugar itself. You can reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth and prevent future oral problems by limiting your sugar intake.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Cavities or holes in the teeth, also known as tooth decay or dental caries, develop when oral acid attacks the enamel and dentine of the teeth. Plaque, a thin and sticky film that frequently forms over the teeth, contains bacteria that produce acid. Consuming sugar causes the bacteria in the plaque to interact, producing acid. Because it slowly dissolves the enamel, this acid causes tooth decay by causing holes or cavities in the teeth. Tooth decay can cause tooth abscesses, which may necessitate tooth extraction.  

Despite recent declines, tooth decay is still one of the most prevalent health issues in the UK, second only to the common cold. Nearly one in four children and one in three adults are thought to experience some form of dental decay.

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What Causes Cavity?

What initially results in cavities? The simplest answer is that there are bacteria on your teeth. The more detailed response is that these bacteria produce plaque, a biofilm on your teeth that is immune to saliva and brushing. As the bacteria multiply, they produce acids that can easily erode the enamel on your teeth. These acids keep eating away at your enamel and leaving tiny holes in it. 

Once there, the bacteria can enter the holes and carry on the process. The dentin, which is much softer and easier to penetrate than enamel, is the next layer of the tooth that they will eventually reach. You’re going to experience a lot of pain and sensitivity once the bacteria get past this layer and move on to your tooth pulp and eventually your jawbone. Sugar serves as the food source that bacteria require. For these bacteria, even a small amount of sugar on your teeth can be a feast, promoting their rapid growth and making plaque easier to form. The likelihood of developing tooth decay and cavities increases with the amount of sugar you consume.

Cavities may lead to toothaches and other dental problems. If you want to learn how to treat toothaches, you may check out our Guide to Choosing the Right Treatments for Toothaches.

How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?

We’re all becoming more and more aware of the damage that consuming a lot of sugar can do to your general health. And if you’ve ever been to the dentist, you know how bad sugar is for your teeth and oral health. Have you ever heard the reasons why sugar can be so harmful despite all these cautions? It’s important to comprehend why you should limit your intake of foods and beverages that contain sugar. Here are a few ways that sugar harms your oral health, along with some solutions.

1. Your Mouth as Battleground

The majority of what you put into your body enters through your mouth. Through your mouth, you take in all the food (which provides energy) and liquids (which provides hydration), so your mouth serves as a battlefield for good and bad bacteria. Numerous studies have demonstrated that when you encounter and digest sugar, some harmful bacteria in your mouth produce acid. That means that every time you eat sugar, these bacteria produce an increasing amount of acid, which damages your teeth.

Your saliva mitigates this harm but eating a lot of sugar results in more acid than your saliva can neutralize. The enamel, a shiny, protective layer that surrounds your teeth, loses minerals as a result of the constant cycle of acid attacks on them. This acid weakens and erodes the enamel over time, creating a cavity.

2. Sugar Changes The Acidity In Your Mouth

Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus are the two corrosive strains of bacteria that are typically found in the mouth. Both bacteria feed on sugar to produce plaque, the gummy substance your dentist removes from your teeth at regular checkups. This plaque will eventually turn acidic and eat away at the enamel on your teeth if it is allowed to remain on your teeth and is not removed by brushing or saliva.

3. Sugar Attracts Bad Bacteria

Sugar attracts the tiny bacteria that cause gingivitis and gum disease in addition to producing enamel-eating acids. These illnesses can make your gums pull away from your teeth and erode the supporting tissues, which prevent your teeth from falling out.

4. Effects of Solid Sugars On Teeth

More foods than you might think to contain sugar. In addition to eating common snacks like chips and cookies, you can also get sugar from natural sources like fruits, vegetables, and honey. High-white-sugar processed foods can be especially harmful because they leave a sticky film on your teeth that is too potent for saliva to wash away. Only brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and dental cleanings can get rid of this buildup.

Even though you should consume sugar in moderation, frequent snacking on foods high in sugar lengthens the time your teeth are exposed to the acids’ erosive effects. The result is tooth decay.

5. Effects of Sugary Drink On Teeth

Even more damaging to your teeth than eating sugary foods is drinking sugary beverages. In addition to the acids produced by sugar, many drinks like soda also contain acidity that is bad for your teeth. A 2014 study from Finland found that consuming one or two sugar-sweetened beverages per day increased your risk of developing cavities by 31%.

High fructose corn syrup-containing beverages are especially harmful. This sweetener coats your mouth with toxins, leaving a sticky film all over it. It can be found in many sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages. In this film, bacteria multiply, producing acids and cavities.

In Conclusion

Finding a way to eliminate unnecessary sugar from your diet may seem impossible given the number of foods and beverages you consume that contain sugar. However, you can start with the most harmful version, processed or refined sugar, such as the kind present in soda, candy, ice cream, potato chips, and pre-packaged snacks. To encourage strong teeth, try to eat more foods high in fiber and protein, such as nuts, cheese, and leafy greens. You can also take care of your teeth by flossing and dental hygiene.

Additionally, because they naturally remove plaque and bacteria from the surface of your teeth, vegetables like carrots and celery are even better for your teeth. Getting plenty of liquids before, during, and after meals encourages salivation and helps to remove food particles and bacteria from your mouth. While consuming large amounts of sugar is bad for your oral and general health, consuming xylitol as a sugar substitute can help prevent bacteria that cause cavities. This sugar-alcohol compound is frequently present in sugar-free gum, sugar-free mints, and various toothpaste types.

If you are suffering from sensitive teeth, you may also read our guide to Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth for more tips and recommendations.