You probably already know that sugar can damage your teeth, but are you sure exactly why and how it happens? Education on this simple fact can be crucial for preventing cavities and keeping the teeth healthy — especially for kiddos. Keep reading to learn more about how sugar causes tooth decay from your dentist in Land O’Lakes.
How Cavities Develop
Tooth decay doesn’t happen immediately after sugar is consumed. If this were the case, everyone would need a new set of teeth by the age of 20 or so. Rather, decay is a gradual process that will usually only occur if certain acids and bacteria are allowed to linger on the teeth for a long period of time.
It works like this: Your mouth is full of bacteria — both good and bad. When the sugars in what you eat and drink combine with the bad bacteria, a harmful, acidic substance forms that can weaken the outer layer of enamel that protects the tooth over time. Eventually, a lesion or cavity will form on the surface.
An Important Self Defense
This onslaught of bacteria and acids is constantly occurring inside the mouth, but there is good news — and it’s that your mouth already has a strong self-defense lined up. Through a process known as remineralization, important minerals are replaced on the outer enamel and the tooth becomes stronger and better able to prevent a cavity from forming. Mineral-rich saliva is a key player in remineralization, as it contains calcium and phosphates to help strengthen the teeth. Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste will also help to remineralize the tooth enamel and protect you and your family against cavities.
People who eat a diet that is high in sugar are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease than those who don’t. And the truth is, sugar may be hiding in more foods than you realize. It is important to evaluate your diet and cut out surprise sugar that may be lurking in your yogurt, granola, or favorite beverage. Read the ingredients list to find out just how much sugar you are consuming on a day to day basis. If you do not want to remove it from your diet, make a habit of swishing your mouth out with water immediately after. This is an easy action that can provide significant protection for your smile.
Sugar is one enemy of a healthy and long-lasting smile, but with a little care and effort, you can protect your smile from its damaging effects. Visit your dentist this month to find out even more and about how sugar may be affecting your smile!
Meet the Practice
Dr. Jay Nelson is a general and restorative dentist in Land O’Lakes offering superior dental care from the comfort of a modern dental practice. To learn more about general or restorative dentistry or to schedule an appointment for cavity treatment or prevention, you are invited to contact his office at 813-949-0424.