Everyone says that sugar is bad for your oral health, but how can one avoid it when it is an integral part of most food and drinks?
Fruits, colas, beverages, cakes, desserts, and even bread have a certain amount of sugar in them.
Although it might seem harmless, consumption of sweet foods is directly related to tooth decay and gum disease.
Not only that, going overboard on sweets has other health implications as well.
It is not that you stop eating sugar altogether, but you have got to focus on your oral hygiene. Also, by keeping the sugar intake moderate, you can enjoy plenty of other health benefits too.
Consequences of eating Sugar
- Sugar has a direct relation to tooth decay.
- Eating sweet foods leads to the formation of plaque which is bacterial colonies.
- Plaque is harmful to tooth enamel, causing cavities.
The best way to curb these bacteria and plaque, rinse & brush immediately after eating.
- Sugar can cause gum disease. You would not know when it started & it keeps advancing.
- Gum disease may progress to the next stage of periodontitis, which affects gums as well as the bones underneath them.
- Periodontal bacteria are capable of traveling beyond the oral cavity into other tissues, including joints, kidneys, or lungs, etc.
- Accumulated bacteria from periodontitis can cause heart disease by clogging arteries.
- You may even require oral surgery to treat severe gum issues.
What happens in the oral cavity when you eat sugar?
Your mouth is home to many kinds of bacteria. They are basically of two types- harmful and beneficial.
The harmful bacteria are those that produce acid in the mouth as a byproduct of sugar digestion. So whenever you eat sweet foods, these bacteria also "eat" them and produce acid as a way of digesting them.
The tooth enamel, which is the protective covering of the teeth made of minerals, reacts with this acid. As a result, it wears away. This wearing away of the enamel is called demineralization.
Additionally, damage to the tooth covering also exposes its inner layer containing the nerves and makes your teeth sensitive to hot, cold and sweet foods as well as drinks.
What Happens After You Stop Eating Sugar
The mouth also contains saliva, which protects your oral health. The saliva contains a lot of minerals and acts as a savior by constantly undoing the harm via a natural process called remineralization.
Remineralization helps rebuild the enamel eroded by way of the acid produced by harmful bacteria( in response to sugar).
It makes the enamel regain some of its lost strength.
Nonetheless, when this acid attack continues every day, it becomes a vicious cycle and does some permanent damage to the enamel, giving rise to cavities(holes).
Should One Totally Stop Taking Sugar Intake?
There are many kinds of acidic foods besides sugar that are bad for your oral health. It is not as though sugar itself is bad, but what happens in the mouth after eating is bad.
As much as possible, one must avoid the intake of refined sugars such as that found in candies, ice cream, cola drinks, and packaged food.
The more sugar you eat, the more the bacteria digest, the more acid they produce and demineralize your teeth to form cavities.
Instead, eat fruits, fiber-rich foods such as cheese, nuts high in fiber and protein like nuts, salads and leafy greens that minimize the harmful bacteria in the mouth.
They act as natural cleansers. Also, drink enough water. Water is wonderful for the teeth as it boosts the production of saliva and cleanses the teeth as well.
What are the safer alternatives?
You can have sugar-free gum, mints and use sugarless toothpaste. They contain xylitol which tastes sweet but does not promote bacteria growth in the mouth.
In fact, it retards their growth. As long as you don't go overboard with xylitol, it is a very good alternative as a sweetener that is not bad for teeth.
Also, space out your meals instead of snacking every now and then. Drink lots of water and swish it in the mouth after eating.
Listen to the Experts
All Dental surgeons advise staying away from sugary beverages and foods as much as possible. Your oral experts at Kirkland Premier Dentistry always counsel patients to brush their teeth immediately after consuming sweets and sweetened drinks.
At Kirkland Premier Dentistry Dr. Gaurav Sharma has 400+ hours of Continuing education from the prestigious AAID (American Academy of Implant Dentistry) He applies for the latest research & advances in dentistry to provide the best dental care to patients.
Protect your oral health and your smile by brushing and flossing every day and visiting your dentist every 6 months!