Why Is Sugar Bad for My Teeth?

Closeup of donuts with pink, white, blue, and purple icing and sprinkles that contain sugar that can harm teeth

You’ve probably been told your whole life that sugar is bad for your teeth, but have you ever wondered exactly why sugar can harm your teeth? In this post, we’ll give you a breakdown of the facts, in case you need a little extra motivation to moderate your sweets consumption today.

How Oral Bacteria Interact with Sugar

You may have heard us mention plaque buildup on your teeth when you come in for a routine cleaning. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on your teeth and at your gumline. Essentially, the bacteria in plaque causes tooth decay. These bacteria in your mouth feast on sugar from the food you eat and drink. As a byproduct, bacteria then create acids that dissolve the protective outer coating of your teeth, called the enamel.

Consuming a Nutrient-Rich Diet

However, it’s important to note that sugar is not only found in sweets and candies. Starchy carbs like white bread, crackers, prepackaged cookies, potato chips, and many cereals are favored by oral bacteria. For this reason, it’s important to be conscious of the kind of carbohydrates you are consuming and eat a balanced diet full of nutrient-rich foods to promote healthy teeth. For example, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, and dairy have natural sugars but also contain valuable nutrients that will contribute to a healthy body and a healthy mouth!

Tips to Protect Your Oral Health

It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to entirely give up carbohydrates and sweets. But there are several things you can do to strengthen teeth and to help prevent tooth decay!

  • Avoid constant snacking (or grazing) throughout the day. Eat 3-4 balanced meals daily.
  • Limit your consumption of enamel-damaging drinks like soda, coffee, wine, citrus-flavored sparkling water, and alcohol.
  • Brush your twice daily for two minutes each time with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss at least once a day. It’s especially effective to floss after starchy meals of pasta or bread, or if you have chewy candy or sweets.
  • Chew sugar-free gum for at least 20 minutes after meals to stimulate saliva production and help clean teeth. Saliva is the mouth’s natural rinse.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Keep up with your biannual dental checkups here at Summit Family Dentistry so you can get any cavities treated early.

Enjoy Sweets in Moderation

We want you to enjoy life and the sweet things it has to offer but please indulge only in moderation. It’s critical to be mindful of how your diet and lifestyle choices affect your dental health. Contact us if you have any additional questions about protecting your oral health from the negative effects of sugar.

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