You have probably often heard that sugar is bad for the teeth. We all know that eating a lot of sweets and sugary products leads to cavities, but how exactly does this happen? What makes sugar so unhealthy for the teeth?
How do cavities appear?
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the mouth contains hundreds of different bacteria strains. Some of them are beneficial to your body. Other aren’t. Your mouth is an ecosystem where the good bacteria balance the bad ones and keep them under control with the help of saliva. When bad bacteria feed and increase in numbers, they give off acid that destroys the enamel (the protective layer of your teeth). Cavities are nothing but bacterial infections resulted from the acid attacks. They create holes in your teeth and can appear anywhere, from areas that are visible to the naked eye to areas that are hidden, such as between your teeth. Where does sugar come in this equation? Well, sugar is the favorite bacteria food, for starters.
Sugar & pH
As there are frequent acid attacks on your teeth, the pH in your mouth is constantly changing. When you consume sugar, the bacteria feed on it and release acids, leading to a high acidity in your mouth. The acidity causes teeth to lose minerals and, in time, this will lead to cavities and dental erosion.
The only way to prevent a severe demineralization of your teeth is saliva. Saliva helps you maintain a good oral health and remineralizes your teeth, strengthening the enamel layer. You may not know this, but in saliva, you can find phosphates and calcium that are crucial in getting back the minerals your teeth lose because of acid attacks. But if these attacks happen too often (meaning that you consume too much sugar), the teeth will lose minerals faster than saliva can help getting them back. This is why sugar is harmful to your teeth, and you should always watch your daily sugar intake if you want to maintain a good oral health.
How can you help the remineralization process?
Besides limiting your daily sugar intake, there are a couple of other things you can do. Firstly, you should stimulate the saliva flow by consuming fibrous vegetable and fruits and by drinking plenty of water. Secondly, you should never forget to brush twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, rinse your mouth with mouthwash and floss. Visit your dentist at least twice a year to prevent dental decay and make sure that your oral health is optimal.