Woman holding a cupcake in one hand and a fake tooth in the other looking confused on which to choose

The Not-So-Scary Truth About Sugar

Don’t Let Tooth Decay Spook You

Maintaining good oral hygiene is of the utmost importance from the moment you get your first tooth on through adulthood. From learning to brush your teeth twice a day to flossing and using mouthwash, these are habits you carry for your entire life.

Along with instilling healthy oral hygiene habits to avoid dental issues like cavities and tooth decay, your dentist probably always told you not to eat too much sugar because it would ruin your pearly whites.

But why do the most delicious sweets and treats play these tricks on your teeth? Here is the not-so-scary truth about sugar and its link to tooth decay:

Bad, Bad Bacteria

Your mouth is filled with various types of bacteria — some of which are good for your oral health and others are harmful. When you consume high amounts of sugar, the bad bacteria digest the sugar and produce acid.

This acid causes demineralization, which is the degeneration of the minerals from the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is the protective outer layer of your teeth and gives your smile extra shine. This mineral loss ultimately weakens and destroys the enamel, allowing cavities to form.

The harmful bacteria also create dental plaque, the sticky film on the surface of your teeth after you eat. If the plaque does not get properly removed, your mouth becomes an acidic environment, making you more prone to cavities.

How Saliva Reverses the Damage

Hearing what sugar does to your teeth can be frightening, but there is good news (and this is not a trick). While removing minerals from your enamel is called demineralization, there is also a process known as remineralization. During this natural process, the minerals in your saliva help the enamel repair itself by replacing the lost minerals.

Your saliva is full of minerals such as calcium and phosphate. When those minerals become paired with fluoride from your toothpaste and the water you drink, your teeth begin to strengthen.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Luckily, there are steps you can take to effectively prevent tooth decay. The following are tips to keep your smile healthy.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet is crucial to maintaining good oral health. Dairy products have extra calcium that helps strengthen your teeth, while fruits and vegetables can help clean your teeth while eating them.

Cut Back on Sugary Snacks

Sugar is probably one of the hardest compounds to avoid. This simple carbohydrate is found in various foods, drinks, and snacks on the shelves at the grocery store. It also is delicious and a fan-favorite for those who have a sweet tooth.

The best way to prevent tooth decay is to avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar. Some everyday food and beverage chock full of sugar include:

  • Chips.
  • Pretzels.
  • Desserts.
  • Salad Dressings.
  • Dried fruit.
  • Sports Drinks and sodas.

Avoid Sugary Drinks

If you can’t avoid sugary drinks, it is best to have them with meals instead of drinking them between meals. It is also helpful to drink sugary beverages through a straw so the sugar and acidity of the beverage can bypass the surfaces of your teeth.

Increase Saliva Production

Saliva washes away any food particles that are left in your mouth after eating. However, some people have dryer mouths due to medical conditions or medications they’re taking. Follow these tips to help naturally boost your saliva production:

  • Drink more water.
  • Eat raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Chew sugarless gum.

Practice Oral Hygiene

The most pertinent step to preventing tooth decay is practicing good oral hygiene. In order to have an effective dental hygiene routine, remember to:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste for extra tooth protection.

Some people also brush their teeth after every meal to wash away any additional plaque. Following these steps will decrease your risk of tooth decay.

Treating Tooth Decay at Boise River Dental

Whether it is a filling, crown, or general dental exam, the friendly team at Boise River Dental will work with you to find a solution to improve your oral health. At our practice, all patients are treated like family.

Contact us online or call us to learn more about how we can restore your smile.