We all know that eating too much sugar isn’t good for your health in general, but do you know how eating too much sugar affects your teeth?
It is not the sugar alone that causes tooth decay, but rather the process that happens after you eat the sugar. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NICDR), the mouth is full of hundreds of bacteria, many of which are beneficial to the oral ecosystem. However, certain harmful oral bacteria actually feed on the sugars you eat to create acids that destroy the tooth enamel, which is the shiny, protective outer layer of the tooth. Cavities are a bacterial infection created by acids, that cause your teeth to experience a hole in them. Without treatment, cavities can progress past the enamel and into the deeper layers of the tooth, causing pain and possible tooth loss.
How do I avoid damage to my teeth?
- Cut down on sugar
- Stimulate more salivary flow by chewing sugarless gum after a meal, incorporating more fibrous vegetables and fruits into your diet, and drinking plenty of water.
- Green and black teas contain substances that help suppress harmful oral bacteria. Adding a cup or two per day (without sugar) can help maintain a healthy balance.
- Avoid a high number of daily “sugar exposures”. Eating or drinking small amounts of sugar throughout the day is actually worse for your teeth than eating a lot in one sitting!
- Brush at least twice per day with a soft toothbrush and floss daily.
Can the damage be undone?
It IS possible for teeth to be remineralized if the cavity has not progressed into the under layer called the dentin! How do you do this?
- Using fluoridated toothpastes or rinses. Fluoride can actually remineralize areas on your tooth enamel that have begun to break down (or demineralize). Using a fluoridated toothpaste or mouth rinse regularly can help keep daily enamel damage from our food and drink in check and even reverse it with the right diet and oral home care!
- Following the guidelines above to avoid future damage
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