How Sugar Affects Your Teeth

Everyone knows sugar is bad for your oral health, but few people know why. Once you understand how sugar affects your teeth, you may be less tempted to indulge in Halloween candy and other sweets during the holidays.

How Cavities Form

Your mouth is home to hundreds of different types of bacteria. Some are beneficial, but others cause cavities. When you eat sweets, some of the sugar lingers on your teeth. Harmful bacteria eat these leftovers and leave acids and plaque behind.

Without proper oral hygiene, the accumulation of acid lowers the pH balance in your mouth. This causes demineralization, or the removal of minerals from the hard outer surface of your teeth known as enamel. As your enamel erodes, holes form in your teeth. The damage eventually progresses deeper and deeper until it causes pain and tooth loss.

Reducing the Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth

A constant battle is raging in your mouth between bacteria and tooth enamel. Fortunately, you have an effective weapon on your side—saliva. In addition to breaking down food as it enters your digestive system, saliva helps to remineralize your teeth with calcium, phosphates, and other minerals.

It’s possible to fill cavities and restore your smile, but it’s best to avoid tooth decay in the first place. Here’s how to give your saliva a fighting chance against the onslaught of sugars and acids in your mouth:

  • Limit your sugar intake by eating less Halloween candy and other sweets during the upcoming holiday season.
  • Brush your teeth after eating sugary food. If that’s not possible, chew sugarless gum or swish with water to wash away any lingering sugar in your mouth.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol that has the same sweetness as sugar but is not a viable food source for bacteria.
  • Limit between-meal snacks to give your saliva a chance to wash away acid and repair your teeth before the next meal.
  • Don’t eat or drink anything sugary between brushing your teeth and going to bed. Likewise, never send your child to bed with juice, which introduces sugar to the mouth just when saliva flow decreases during sleep.
  • Consider dental sealants, a product that covers the chewing surfaces of a child’s molars to protect this rough, pitted area from bacteria.
  • Seek out fluoride. This mineral helps prevent tooth decay and can even reverse cavities in their early stages. Drink fluoridated water, brush with fluoride toothpaste, and ask about fluoride treatments at your next dentist visit.

The best way to avoid cavities is to combine at-home oral hygiene tips with routine teeth cleanings at Park 56 Dental. Our experienced dental team will check on the condition of your smile, clean and polish your teeth, and address any cavities that are developing before they grow any larger. To schedule your next appointment, please contact Park 56 Dental online or call our NYC dentist today at (212) 826-2322.

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