It is well-known today that sugary drinks and foods can cause some serious damage to your teeth, mainly in the form of tooth decay, in some cases resulting in the loss of teeth. According to a study by the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, tooth loss was positively associated with sugar-sweetened beverages among young adults ages 18-39. But why does sugar do so much damage to your teeth? For the most part, it comes down to chemistry.
Good vs. Bad Bacteria
Our mouth is filled with bacteria, some good, some not so good. Typically, the good kinds of bacteria help to maintain and protect your mouth and teeth from the bad. Good bacteria produce certain types of proteins that control other types of harmful bacteria. Sugars tend to create a better environment for bad bacteria to thrive. The result, is dry mouth, bad breath, and over time tooth decay.
Some studies have shown that a specific type of bad bacteria actually can produce acid in your mouth whenever they encounter sugar. The acid that is produced from this process can begin to remove minerals from your enamel, which is a key line of defense and protector of your teeth. Without this strong, protective outer layer, your teeth become much more vulnerable to tooth decay and other dental issues.
What You Can Do
Luckily, our mouth is constantly working to reverse any damage taking place to teeth through the process of remineralization. Saliva carries mineral-rich elements such as calcium and phosphate that can strengthen your teeth. Still, the greater your sugar intake, the harder it is for your saliva to combat these acids.
Moderation is always the best approach to sugar. But going one step further, here is how to help improve the regenerative aspects of your saliva:
- Fluoride from toothpaste helps repair your teeth’ health.
- Fluoride in water can also support your mouth health so drink lots of water.
- In some cases, a professional fluoride treatment is necessary.
- Find beverage alternatives with less sugar.
- Regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits are key.
- See a professional immediately if you suspect a cavity or are noticing any pain.
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it is critical to moderate the intake of sugar and incorporate healthy dental habits and routines into your life. The greatest way to protect against a cavity is to prevent one in the first place, and your ability to moderate your intake of sugar is key to prevention.
If you think you might be suffering from excessive tooth decay as a result of sugary drinks, come in for an appointment and consultation. We’ll take a look and offer you some guidance on how to improve the health of your mouth and teeth. Contact us to make an appointment.