“Don’t eat sweets, or your teeth will all rot out” is a phrase you likely heard as a child. If you’re a parent, you may have even said it. In reality, the damage that eating too much sugar can do to teeth should make everyone listen to that sage advice.
What Does Sugar Do To Teeth?
Did you know your mouth is full of bacteria? It’s true. Some are good for the inside of your mouth. Others, not so much. The harmful bacteria feed on the sugar and carbohydrates, also known as starches, that you eat, and together, they create acids. Acid-producing bacteria can do two things. First, they can destroy the enamel (shiny outer layer of your tooth). Next, if left untreated, they will generate cavities. They go into the deeper layers of your tooth, creating a hole, causing pain and possible tooth loss.
Your teeth are always susceptible to cavity-making acids. However, this damage can be reversed by minerals. Minerals come from the enamel of your teeth and your saliva through a process called remineralisation. It generates minerals like calcium and phosphates, both of which are good for strengthening teeth. Fluoride is another mineral that comes into play and also helps repair your weakened enamel. It’s a great process, but it can only do so much. To keep your teeth healthy, you have to limit your sugar intake. That includes starches.
Cutting down on sugar is a good start. Here are some other ways to promote remineralisation and improve the enamel of your teeth. Stimulate your saliva flow by chewing sugarless gum and eat high-fibre vegetables and fruits. It helps to bathe your teeth in minerals. Calcium and phosphates strengthen teeth, so keep dairy products in your diet.
Finally, fluoride is a mineral that prevents tooth decay and reverses it in its early stages, according to NHS England. Drink plenty of water and brush regularly with a toothpaste that contains 1,350 to 1,500 ppm fluoride. The NHS also recommends professional fluoride treatments from a dentist.
Ultimately, be mindful of your sugar intake, and teach your kids to be as well. When you eat sugar, brush afterwards with fluoride toothpaste, and make sure you also eat the healthy foods that strengthen your teeth. Keep up with your regular dental visits for good measure. Then, you can enjoy your sweet life, only with fewer cavities.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.