Eating a lot of sugar in foods and drinks may seem harmless and it definitely is a common part of our culture. They just taste so good, after all. However, sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, not to mention the damaging effects it can have on other parts of your body.
How does a Sweet Treat Turn Into a Cavity?
Sugar by itself is not harmful to your teeth, however, t begins a process that will eventually damage your teeth and gums. There is a constant battle taking place in your mouth and sugar plays a key role. Understanding this process is the beginning of making better choices for your oral health.
1) Sweets form plaque
Consuming sugary foods and drinks such as cake, cookies, sodas, and candy coats your teeth in sugar. Harmful bacteria in your mouth feed on the remnants of these foods in your mouth turning the sugar into a kind of glue. This glue helps bacteria to stick to your teeth and the bacteria and glue form plaque together. Plaque that isn’t removed hardens above or below the gum line resulting in tartar build up. This makes the plaque difficult to remove and also forms a shield for the bacteria.
2) Tooth erosion begins
Acids from the plaque eat into your tooth enamel causing tiny holes in the enamel. Eventually, the acid wears down enough enamel to expose the next layer of your tooth known as dentin. Dentin is softer and more susceptible to the effects of bacteria and acid. Dentin is also connected to nerve endings which causes the beginning of tooth sensitivity.
3) You have a cavity!
As the bacteria and acid continue to erode away at your tooth, they eventually reach the inner “pulp” of the tooth. This inner pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves, becomes swollen and irritated. Swelling compresses the nerve which causes you pain. The pain and discomfort from a cavity can reach down beyond the root into your jawbone.
Sugar Consumption and Your Teeth: Reducing Sugar’s Effects
Avoid eating sugary and starchy foods as much as possible. Also, try to avoid sipping on sweet or acidic drinks throughout each day. This essentially keeps your teeth in an acid bath all the time. Practicing good oral hygiene is also vital to the health of your teeth. Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once daily. Pay special attention to your molars as these teeth are the most commonly missed while brushing. And finally, get your regular checkups and teeth cleanings from your dentist. This ensures all the plaque and tartar is removed completely.
Your dental health plays a huge role in your general health. Understanding the effects of sugar on your teeth is a vital first step. Use this guide to sugar consumption and your teeth to be informed, but don’t stop there. Eat well, brush, floss and keep your dental appointments. Your mouth will love you for it and reflect it in your smile.
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