Protecting and perfecting your smile

September 21, 2018

Sugars And Sweets Lead To Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can result from the consumption of sugar. Brushing your teeth and rinsing after meals can reduce the amount of decay, but continued sugar consumption increases the rate and severity of tooth decay. It is important to understand why sugar and sweets lead to dental decay issues.

Sugar is a potent food source for bacteria and it feeds the bacteria in our mouths, which live on and around our teeth. When bacteria consume sugars, they release digestive byproducts that are acidic. It is the production of these acidic byproducts that lowers the effective pH, which means a higher acidity. When the acidity level around the teeth increases, tooth decay follows.

Teeth have a natural protective Enamel layer on the outer surface with a softer and more vulnerable Dentin substructure. The Dentin layer is vulnerable to higher acidity levels and breaks down slowly over time. Brushing with Fluoridated toothpaste allows the Fluoride to harden the Enamel layer, making it less vulnerable. Despite routine brushing with Fluoridated toothpaste, repetitive and continued consumption of sugars and sweets will continue to raise the acidity of the mouth and eventually degrade the tooth Enamel until the Dentin is exposed, which is a cavity. Cavities can turn into more severe cases, such as abscesses. Continued exposure of Dentin to sugar and the resulting higher acidity levels leads to lifelong degenerative tooth conditions.

Sugar consumption is a major problem in the US and the leading cause of tooth decay. Children have been found to be at greater risk than adults. The underlying problem driving tooth decay from sugar consumption is the food industry and the overuse of sugar in the foods we eat. A simple fact is that dental decay would be rare or nonexistent, if there were relatively little or no sugars in our food. Where the problem of tooth decay is food related, the cure lies in reducing sugar consumption and behavioral changes such as rinsing with water after meals. Beverages that are heavy with sugar are one of the leading causes of tooth decay, but sugar is in almost everything we eat. Every time you drink a beverage sweetened with any form of sugar, you are soaking your teeth in the food that drives bacterial waste production that drives higher acidity levels.

Different foods remain on your teeth for different periods of time. The mouth works to clean itself and cycles saliva, which clears food from around the teeth. Drinking of sweet beverages, especially soda, continually floods the mouth and washes the teeth in sugar, and prevents the mouth from cleaning itself. Eating candy and sweet treats that stick to the teeth creates a barrier to saliva, and lets the sugars persist around and on the teeth for longer periods of time. It is a good habit to rinse your mouth with water after every meal, especially after eating sweets or drinking sweet beverages. Rinsing with a mouthwash that kills bacteria can also reduce bacterial counts and reduce the production of higher acidity levels. Always brush right before going to sleep, else sugars may persist on your teeth through the  night.

Good general dental hygiene is a fundamental necessity for reducing or eliminating dental decay. Avoid drinking sweet beverages and sweet treats. Rinse your mouth after every meal or snack. Use mouthwash to reduce bacterial populations in your mouth. (It is recommended that kids under the age of 6 NOT use mouthwash, because they may drink it.) Always brush right before going to sleep. As a parent, be responsible and make your kids brush regularly and follow good dental hygiene habits. See your dentist regularly to catch dental decay before it progresses into full dental decay or cavities or abscesses. If you have questions or concerns, feel free to call us! 801-274-3768

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Cohen Dental

1345 E. 3900 S. #108
Salt Lake City, UT 84124