It is a well-understood fact that sugar is bad for your teeth, but the mechanism behind this process and the severity of the problem are not always recognized by the public at large. Let's take a look at some of the facts behind sugar and its effect on your teeth.
Every time you eat or drink something, bits and pieces of food or drink are left on your teeth as a residue. Most things we consume contain some sugar and your body is well equipped to process it. Healthy amounts of sugar are easily broken down, but excessive amounts of sugar in your diet can overwhelm your ability to process it. Any sugar that isn't broken down serves as fuel for bacteria that reside in your mouth. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day to maintain a healthy diet.
When bacteria consume sugar, they leave behind acids as a waste product. These bacteria form a film on your teeth as they grow, creating an acidic residue called plaque. This residue seals around your teeth, allowing its acid to slowly eat away at the enamel covering that protects them. Continuous consumption of food and drink throughout the day allows plaque to build quickly and form ever tighter seals around your teeth.
Given enough time, the acidic reaction between plaque and your teeth will create a hole, referred to as a cavity. Once the enamel has been breached, bacteria will begin colonizing the inside of the tooth, which leads to tooth decay.
The inner portion of each tooth is not resistant to bacterial growth and contains living tissue, including blood vessels and a nerve. A bacterial infection of the tooth will eventually damage these tissues and kill the tooth entirely, which will not only result in the loss of the tooth but significant pain as well.
Preventing the issues mentioned above can be easier than it sounds. Avoiding high sugar intake when possible and sticking to regular separate meals prevents plaque from building up as quickly. Additionally, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once will clear debris and help to prevent the formation of plaque. The use of a fluoride toothpaste can also strengthen your enamel and make it more resistant to acid erosion.
While all of the above are excellent ways to prevent decay, plaque formation is inevitable given enough time. For this reason, it is always recommended that you have a professional cleaning done twice a year by a qualified hygienist.
If you are looking to learn more or are interested in scheduling a cleaning or exam for yourself, we encourage you to contact us at 516-874-7834. We are R+R Dental, and our warm and caring staff are excited to assist you with anything you need. Find us in Hicksville, located at 754 S Broadway!