Sugar is found in many of our favorite foods, including some that might surprise you. For example, most people know that sweets such as candy, cookies, and ice cream are loaded with sugar — but did you know that it’s also found in many brands of bread, condiments, cereal, and yogurt? Even frozen fruit and fruit juice are often sweetened with sugar.
While sugary foods may be tasty, they can lead to major consequences for your oral health, including cavities and tooth loss. Explore our informative guide to learn about the effects of sugar on your teeth and how you can protect yourself.
How Sugar Affects Your Teeth
There’s no question that sugar causes tooth decay. However, it’s not the sugar itself that harms your teeth, but the chain of events that happens in your mouth after you eat something sugary.
Your mouth is filled with all kinds of bacteria, and some of them can be harmful to your health. Studies have shown that a group of these harmful bacteria produce acid in your mouth every time you digest sugar. These acids weaken your enamel, the outer layer that protects your teeth, in a process called demineralization.
Your body has a natural defense for this problem called remineralization, the process of your saliva continuously reversing the damage to your enamel. This works because your saliva contains acids such as calcium and phosphate that replace lost minerals to strengthen your teeth.
Unfortunately, this repeated cycle of acids attacking and protecting your teeth will destroy your enamel over time, eventually causing decayed teeth and dental cavities. Without treatment, the decay can spread deeper into your tooth, resulting in debilitating pain and possible tooth loss.
“When you combine excessive sugar consumption with poor oral hygiene habits, the results can be devastating,” says Dr. Michael Solly, a dentist and sleep apnea specialist in Knoxville, TN.
Habits to Avoid
Avoiding sugar altogether is extremely difficult and ultimately not necessary, but limiting your intake as much as possible will result in a healthier smile. In addition to being aware of the level of sugar you’re consuming, we recommend avoiding the following habits:
- Sugary Snacks — Regularly snacking on sugary foods is one of the most likely ways to develop a cavity. Snacking between meals increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the acids that erode your enamel, especially since you’re unlikely to brush your teeth right away.
- Acidic/High-Sugar Beverages — Many beverages are loaded with sugar, including soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, and even some fruit juices. A study in Finland found that drinking just one sugary beverage per day leads to a 31% higher risk for cavities.
- Sticky Foods — Sticky foods such as caramel, hard candies, and lollipops are tough on your teeth. Because these foods stay in your mouth longer, the sugar is released slower, leading to increased acidity in your teeth and frequently resulting in cavities.
Treating Cavities and Tooth Loss
If detected early enough, cavities can be treated with standard fillings, which are available at most dental practices. However, an untreated cavity can rot your entire tooth, at which point your dentist will need to extract it.
If you lose a tooth from severe decay, there’s no better replacement than a dental implant. In addition to looking natural, implants are the only restoration that stimulates bone growth to protect your oral health. They’re also never removed, easy to clean, and can last a lifetime with proper care.
To restore health and beauty to your smile, visit a trustworthy implant provider like Dr. John Poovey in Grand Junction, CO. As a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, he has the skills and experience necessary to help you achieve your dream smile.
Full Arch Replacement
In some cases, patients may lose all of their teeth in one or both arches. This frequently results from a combination of poor oral care and a high-sugar diet. If you’re one of these patients, we can provide you with a stunning new smile in just one short appointment using All-on-4.
The All-on-4 process involves customizing a complete denture to restore your smile and securing it with just four dental implants. These implants are specially placed to maximize your available bone tissue, making the procedure faster and more affordable to you. Best of all, All-on-4 never requires a bone graft, so it’s a great option if you’ve suffered from jawbone deterioration.
If you need to replace one or both arches of teeth, seek out a dentist who features All-on-4 dentures, like Dr. Kenneth Troutman in Huntingburg, IN. Before you know it, you can enjoy all the benefits of a healthy and attractive smile.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
While small amounts of it are okay, too much sugar in your diet puts serious strain on your tooth enamel, leading to weakened and decayed teeth that may eventually need to be removed.
Do your best to avoid sugary foods and drinks, especially when it comes to snacking between meals. In addition, don’t forget to brush your teeth and floss twice a day, and visit your dentist at least twice a year for hygiene appointments.