When it comes to the biggest enemy of your teeth, sugar has had the reputation of being the worst troublemaker imaginable. It’s with good reason, however, and studies are showing more and more how this sweet little crystal can cause a lot of pain.
Sugar alone does not pose a singular threat to the good health of your teeth, but it’s the reactions that occur after the culprit makes it appearance that can send things spiraling out of control.
Every mouth contains live bacteria. This may sound kind of gross, but there good kinds of bacteria as well as not-so-good kinds. The good bacteria are beneficial to your teeth and gums. The not-so-good bacteria thrive on the sugars that you eat, and this is how decay begins.
Demineralization And Plaque Build Up
These bacteria consume and digest the sugars that they come into contact with, which produces an acid in the mouth. This acid removes minerals from the tooth enamel, called demineralization, causing them to weaken and lead to cavities and decay. Luckily, your saliva can help replace lost minerals and rebuild your teeth, so it is important to keep saliva production flowing.
The bacteria in the mouth not only leads to acid production, it can lead to plaque buildup. When the bacteria eats the sugar, it forms a colorless and sticky film that coats the surface of the teeth called plaque. The plaque must be washed away with saliva, or through brushing, or else the mouth becomes even more acidic, leading to the whole demineralization process all over again.
Areas Of Prevention
The good news about all of this is that there are many ways to prevent sugar from getting the best of your mouth. Prevent cavities and decay to begin with by:
• Cutting back on sugary foods and drinks and avoid foods that are sticky. Eat them only on occasion and in moderation.
• Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables as well as dairy products and whole grains. Raw veggies can aid in saliva production.
• Practicing good oral hygiene by brushing at least twice each day and after every meal. Chewing a sugarless gum to promote saliva can help when brushing is not available.
When A Cavity Occurs
When cavities do occur, they must be treated as soon as possible to avoid further dental damage. The longer they get put off, the more chance you’ll have for deeper decay, which can lead to inflammation deeper in the tooth. At that point, a root canal might be required.
Though root canals have a hard reputation, they are rather common and can restore the tooth to full functioning after completion. Make sure that you see a qualified dental team with a great reputation for getting the job done right.