For a long time, people have known that sugar is bad for their teeth. But, sugar is everywhere. It is in our favorite foods, drinks, and sweets. For some, sugar is the flavor of life. For others, it is not necessary or harmful. However, it is difficult to completely eliminate sugar from our diets because there are natural sugars in many healthy food options. Sugar is fine in moderation if you take care of your teeth properly.
While sugar may taste delicious, it can have some unfortunate side effects. Well, sugar is partially to blame for what it does to your teeth. However, there are other factors at play that cause damage to your teeth and mouth. Ultimately, the main ingredient to poor oral health is sugar.
Reaction to Bacteria
Much like the rest of your body, your mouth contains a variety of bacteria–some good, some bad. Some of the bacteria are vital to your health; others can be harmful to the health of your teeth and mouth. Without the correct intervention, your teeth will suffer.
Some food and drink particles remain in your mouth when you eat. The bacteria in your mouth feed on these sugary particles. Unfortunately, when the bacteria ingest the sugar, they release an acidic substance. The acid begins to destroy the enamel–the protective layer of your teeth. This process is known as demineralization because the acid removes minerals from your teeth.
Interestingly, your saliva works against harmful acids. Because your saliva contains calcium and other essential nutrients, it helps your teeth repair the enamel and replace lost minerals. In addition, your saliva neutralizes the acids in order to prevent tooth decay. If there is an imbalance of bacteria, your saliva cannot continue to protect your enamel. Unfortunately, you will form cavities–the beginning stage of tooth decay.
How to Prevent Cavities
Sugar is not an evil substance. The presence of it alone will not harm your teeth. The best way to combat tooth decay is to have good oral hygiene.
Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day or after meals. Not only does this minimize the harmful bacteria, but it also removes the plaque buildup from your teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on your teeth and gives them that “fuzzy” feeling. If you don’t remove plaque, it can continue to build and harden into tartar. More plaque on your teeth increases your risk of developing cavities.
Flossing is an essential part of avoiding cavities. Unfortunately, your toothbrush cannot reach between your teeth as effectively as floss. Therefore, you should floss your teeth at least once a day in order to maintain good oral health. Additionally, flossing allows you to clean closer to your gum line and reduce your chances of developing gum disease.
Finally, you should visit your dentist at least twice yearly for preventative checkups and dental cleanings. Regular dental visits allow you to receive a professional cleaning. Also, your dentist will take x-rays of your mouth to look for signs of future dental problems.