It's the holiday season now, meaning we're constantly surrounded by endless sweets and treats. And we've all heard that sugar is the biggest enemy to our health, but how does sugar really affect our teeth?
One of the main issues behind consuming sugar is tooth decay. Sugar attracts bad bacteria (Streptococcus mutant and Streptococcus sorbrinus) in your mouth. These bacteria convert the sugar you consume into acids. Dental plaque will then develop on the surface of your teeth, and when not removed by brushing, your mouth will become increasingly acidic. This will destroy the tooth's enamel, and cavities will begin to develop.
As such, it isn't actually the sugar which harms your teeth. The real culprit is the bacteria in your mouth which feeds on the sugar you consume.
Is all sugar bad for your teeth?
Foods or drinks containing refined or processed sugars are damaging for your teeth and should be avoided wherever possible. And although foods like fruit, dried fruit and natural sugars like honey are a healthier alternative, they must be eaten in moderation. Otherwise, they too can be damaging for your teeth.
A better alternative for your teeth is xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which doesn't contain the acid-converting traits of sugar. It is common in sugar-free gum and sugar-free sweets. It too must be consumed in moderation (as with all foods and drinks), but it will not damage your teeth as sugar does.
Top 3 tips for preventing sugar from damaging your teeth
Reduce snacking throughout the day. Instead, indulge in sweet treats with your meal.
Rinse your mouth with water after eating something sweet. Wait for 30 minutes and then brush your teeth.
Choose sweets without added acids and which do not remain in your mouth for a long time. Sweets which dissolve slowly (like lollipops) or contain added acids (like sour sweets) stick to your teeth and erode enamel, causing more damage.
While you're indulging this holiday season, don't forget to take care of your teeth. Book an appointment with us today to find out more about cavities and how sugar affects your teeth. And schedule a check and clean to ensure your mouth stays clean and healthy!