Since childhood, we’ve been told to stay away from candy. A sweet tooth causes cavities. But why is that? It has to do with an ingredient we find in almost anything: sugar.
This popular sweetener is used in everything from homemade cookies to stir fry sauce. Even though it might seem like an essential ingredient in cooking, it’s not essential for your teeth. Quite the opposite, actually.
Why is sugar so damaging for your teeth? And what can you do to prevent tooth erosion? We’re going to answer your questions in this article:
What Sugar Does To Your Teeth
It all starts when you eat something with a lot of sugar. Sometimes, foods that seem healthy contain a surprising amount of sugar. A few examples include:
- Store-bought smoothies
- Instant oatmeal packages
- White bread
- Ketchup & BBQ sauce
- Sports drinks
After you eat something sugary, it reacts with other bacteria in your mouth. The sugar then becomes acidic.
Acid, as you can imagine, is very harmful to your teeth. It erodes the enamel of a tooth (the outer layer that protects the dentin and pulp). As this substance sits on your teeth, it increases the likelihood that you’ll develop a cavity.
Your saliva helps wash away this substance, but only to a point. High levels of processed white sugar won’t wash away with saliva. To remove them, you’ll need to go in with your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.
The longer that sugar sits on your teeth, the more damage it does. We recommend swishing your mouth with water after consuming something sweet. You can also try chewing sugar-free gum or eating some cheese to stimulate saliva production.
How To Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Cutting out sugar doesn’t mean that your life will be any less sweet. It simply means that you’ll have fewer cavities! Here’s how you can cut back on this tooth-eroding ingredient:
- Whenever possible, choose the low-sugar or sugar-free versions of your favourite foods. You can always add other, healthier things to sweeten the mix, like fresh fruits or spices.
- Avoid midday sugary snacks (when you’re less likely to brush your teeth).
- Switch to carbonated water instead of sugary soda.
- Prepare your own meals/snacks rather than buying them. That way, you can control how much sugar goes into them.
Lastly, we suggest that you schedule a dental cleaning. Sugar causes increased plaque production, which is the sticky substance that erodes your teeth. Your dentist can remove plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach areas and prevent cavities. Be sure to schedule a cleaning at least twice a year (or more frequently if you have oral health concerns).
Concerned About Tooth Decay?
Now that you know more about Canada’s favourite sweetener, you might be wondering how other ingredients affect your teeth. Your diet plays an important role in preserving your oral health. The food choices we make each day influence how strong our teeth are.
You have questions, and at East Kildonan Dental Group, we have answers. We’re always happy to talk to our patients about their teeth. Is it time to book your next dental cleaning? For more information, click here.