Everyone knows sugar is bad for your teeth, but few people know exactly why. Once you understand how sugar affects your teeth, you may be less tempted by that ice cream cone or candy bar. Fortunately, even when you can’t resist your sweet tooth, there are several ways to counter the effects of sugar on your teeth.
How Cavities Develop
Your mouth is full of hundreds of different types of bacteria. Some are helpful, but others lead to cavities. When you eat sugary foods, some of the sugar lingers on your teeth. Harmful bacteria eat these leftovers and leave acids behind, which eat away at the hard outer surface of your teeth called the enamel.
As minerals in the enamel deplete, a hole eventually forms. Without treatment, a cavity can progress deeper into the tooth, causing pain when the damage hits your nerves and possibly resulting in tooth loss. Dr. Evanson can fill cavities or install crowns over badly damaged teeth to restore your smile.
Tips for Reducing Acid on Your Teeth
Your teeth are frequently under attack by bacteria and acids, but here’s the good news: saliva works constantly to fight off the attack and remineralize your teeth with calcium and phosphates. To give your saliva a fighting chance against the onslaught of acids, try these tips:
- Limit your sugar intake: Sugary foods are the most likely to cause cavities because sugar is a food source for bacteria in your mouth. Limiting your sugar intake is vital if you want to reduce the chance of cavities.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with xylitol: When you have a hankering for something sweet, reach for xylitol gum or candy. This natural sugar alcohol has the same sweetness level and volume as sugar, but it’s not a viable food source for the bacteria in your mouth. Eating xylitol regularly decreases the number of bacteria and therefore the amount of acid that damages your teeth.
- Limit between-meal snacks: Going a few hours without eating gives your saliva a chance to wash away acid and repair your teeth before your next meal.
- Don’t eat or drink anything with sugar between brushing and going to bed: Avoid sending your child to bed with juice, which introduces sugar to the mouth just when saliva flow decreases during sleep.
- Consider dental sealants: This is a product that covers the chewing surfaces of a child’s molars to protect this rough, pitted area from bacteria. Dental sealants can last up to 10 years and are most beneficial for children prone to tooth decay.
Ways to Remineralize Tooth Enamel
If your teeth are exposed to acids regularly and for long periods of time, the enamel continues to lose important minerals, and white spots may appear on your teeth. This early sign of decay is your cue to act, and fast! You can stop or even reverse tooth decay and prevent cavities by using these tips to remineralize enamel:
- Chew sugarless (or xylitol) gum: Chewing gum between meals stimulates saliva flow to bathe your teeth in minerals. Xylitol gum provides the added bonus of raising your saliva’s pH above 7, encouraging minerals in your saliva to move into the weakened part of tooth enamel.
- Eat the right foods: While you’re avoiding candy, soda, juice, and ice cream, eat cheese, unsweetened yogurt, and low fat milk to introduce more calcium and phosphates into your diet, which your saliva will use to strengthen and remineralize your teeth. Green and black teas also contain substances that suppress harmful bacteria in your mouth, so add a few cups to your daily routine.
- Brush with fluoride toothpaste: Fluoride is an important mineral that prevents and even reverses tooth decay in its early stages. Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, drink fluoridated water, and consider a fluoride treatment at your next dental appointment.
Fight the Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth with Regular Dental Visits
The above tips for avoiding cavities are most beneficial if you combine them with routine teeth cleanings at Evanson DDS. We’ll check on the condition of your smile, clean and polish your teeth, and address any cavities you have.
To schedule your next appointment, please contact Evanson DDS online or call our Parker office at (720) 409-0008 today.Leave a reply →