Since you were a kid, you’ve probably been told to avoid sodas and candy because sugar is bad for your teeth. But do you know why? At Williamsville Family Dentistry, we believe our patients make better choices for their health when they’re well informed about the effects of certain substances on their body. With that in mind, today we want to talk about every dentist’s nemesis: sugar.
Why Sugar Causes Cavities
Your mouth is naturally full of bacteria. Some are “good” bacteria that help digest food and other beneficial tasks, while some are “bad.” Bad bacteria feed on the sugar in the food you eat, producing acid. Acids dissolve and damage enamel, which is the hard, protective coating on your teeth. Damage to enamel makes your teeth more vulnerable to cavities. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to gum disease and even tooth loss!
Your Body’s Natural Defense
Although your teeth are frequently under attack from acid produced by bacteria, your body fights back! Your saliva helps protect your teeth from damage by washing away these acids and any residual food particles and by depositing minerals like calcium and phosphate, which restrengthen damaged enamel through a process called remineralization. However, your body can only do so much.
How You Can Help Support Healthy Teeth
There are a few things you can do to limit the negative effects of sugar on your teeth. In addition to managing your diet, a good preventive care routine can work wonders in your body’s fight against tooth decay:
- Limit the amount of sugar you consume. An occasional sweet treat in moderation is fine, but if you are constantly snacking on sweets, simple carbohydrates, and starches, you increase your risk for cavities.
- Brush your teeth twice each day for two minutes each time.
- Floss every day to dislodge bacteria and food particles from between your teeth and from under your gumline.
- Use toothpaste and mouthwash containing fluoride to strengthen your enamel.