January 15th - 19th is Sugar Awareness Week! It’s common knowledge that eating too much sugar can cause tooth decay, but do you know how? Our team here at TNT Orthodontics is here to help you better understand how sugar can lead to tooth decay and the steps you can take to ensure your teeth remain healthy and strong!
First of all, it’s not the sugar itself that does damage to your teeth. It’s actually the chain of events that takes place after you consume sugar. You may be more inclined to listen to the warnings about how sugar affects your teeth if you're aware of the constant battle happening inside your mouth. Here’s how you can prevent tooth decay from taking over your oral health.
The Development of Cavities
How do cavities develop? Your mouth is full of hundreds and hundreds of bacteria. A lot of those bacteria are beneficial to your oral ecosystem! However, there are some oral bacteria that feed on sugar in order to create acids that destroy your tooth enamel. (Remember: enamel is the shiny, protective outer layer of your teeth.) Cavities are a bacterial infection, manifesting as a hole in your teeth, created by acids. If cavities go without treatment, the infection can grow past the enamel and into the deep layers of your tooth. This can cause pain and possible tooth loss.
A Continuous Tug-of-War
Your teeth are under frequent attack by acids, which are leaching minerals from your tooth enamel through a process called demineralization. On the bright side, that damage is constantly being reversed through remineralization. Your saliva is key player in the remineralization process as it contains minerals like calcium and phosphates that help repair your teeth. Replacing lost minerals can only do so much, though. Especially if you are consuming sugary treats throughout the day. If you want to give your mouth an advantage in the constant battle against bad bacteria and acids, try limiting your sugar intake!
TNT Orthodontics has several tips and tricks for preventing cavities, including cutting down on your sugar intake! For instance, stimulating saliva flow helps bathe your teeth in the minerals they need to stay strong. Sugarless gum, fibrous vegetables, and fruits are good ways to stimulate saliva flow. Consuming cheeses, yogurt, and other dairy products also helps strengthen your teeth as they contain calcium and phosphates (they’re also a much healthier alternative to those sugary treats!). Green and black teas* also contain substances that aid in the suppression of harmful oral bacteria, adding a cup of tea to your routine (without sugar) can help maintain a healthy balance in your mouth.
*Green and Black teas can stain your teeth, so drink in moderation!
Fluoride is a mineral that prevents tooth decay and helps to reverse it in its early stages. Drink plenty of fluoridated water and make sure you’re brushing your teeth with an ADA-approved toothpaste. It’s also recommended by the ADA to receive regular fluoride treatments from your dentist.
The key to preventing negative effects of sugar on your teeth is consistency. TNT Orthodontics encourages our patients to limit their sugar intake, brush regularly with an ADA-approved toothpaste, and consume healthy foods that contain minerals that strengthen teeth. Incorporate regular visits to your dentist and fluoride treatments and you’ll have the best shot at winning the fight against tooth decay!