4 Ways Sugar Affects Your Oral Health

4 Ways Sugar Affects Your Oral Health

The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar daily. Excessive sugar consumption is associated with tooth decay. That’s because after eating sweets, leftover particles combine with your saliva and bacteria, causing that sticky film known as plaque.

Dr. AnnMarie Olson and Dr. Kacie Culotta of Restora Dental Arts in Austin, TX, want you to know about sugar and oral health.

How sugar attacks your teeth and gums

There are multiple ways sugar impacts teeth and gums. Here are four crucial ones:

1. Damages your enamel

Sugar eats away at the enamel layer that protects your teeth. This effect is the worst when consuming sugar in liquid forms, such as soda.

2. Welcomes damaging bacteria

Sugar attracts more harmful bacteria to your mouth, which can lead to gingivitis. Gingivitis is a common and mild gum disease characterized by irritation, redness, and swelling. Untreated gum disease can lead to more severe health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

3. Causes cavities 

A cavity starts small but eventually grows. When it does, you may need restorative dental work, such as a root canal or a crown. Cavities are among the world's most common health problems. 

4. Leads to tooth loss

Cavities and gum disease are among the leading causes of tooth loss.

How to fight the effects of sugar

The good news is that you can proactively protect your oral health even with a sweet tooth. Here’s how.

1. Choose your sweets wisely

Sugary foods are not created equal. Some are worse for your oral health than others. Sticky candy that dissolves slowly or also contains added acids is the worst. Instead, go for treats that don’t have these characteristics. Chocolate may be better than chewy candy. Consider snacks sweetened with Xylitol instead. Xylitol is a natural non-nutritive sweetener that’s been shown to aid in the fight against cavities. 

2. Clean up your diet

What you eat matters a lot. You should avoid processed foods, sodas, candy, and refined carbohydrates like chips or crackers. These foods become sugar in your mouth, just as if you had eaten a spoonful.

Choose carrot or celery sticks when you need something to munch on. Carrots and celery are like nature’s toothbrush: they remove plaque from your teeth. 

3. Rinse and brush

Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking sugary products. This removes loose particles and counteracts acids. A half-hour later, brush your teeth. Waiting 30 to 60 minutes before brushing is better than immediately after because scrubbing weakened tooth enamel can be harmful. 

4. See us for regular dental cleanings

Getting regular dental cleanings and exams is one of the best things you can do to protect your teeth from the adverse effects of sugar. Cleanings scrape off the tartar that starts to form before it can lead to cavities. 

Exams can also detect cavities forming beneath the teeth' surface. You may still be able to reverse cavities if you catch them early enough.

To learn more about the impact of sugar on oral health and for all of your dental needs,, contact Restora Dental Arts by phone or use our online feature to request an appointment today.

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