How Does Sugar Damage Your Teeth?

You've probably heard that eating sugary foods is bad for your teeth, and this is true. If you eat a diet that is rich in sugary foods, then you are more at risk of tooth decay than someone who, say, eats more vegetables than sugary treats. But did you know that it isn't the sugar itself that damages your teeth?

Although sugar does contribute to tooth decay, by itself, it cannot damage your tooth enamel. Something else does that.

Oral Bacteria Damage Your Teeth

When you eat processed foods, such as donuts and candy, regularly, you are essentially providing the bad oral bacteria in your mouth with a steady supply of sustenance. Processed sugars are much easier for oral bacteria to digest, and so the more processed sugar you eat, the faster bad bacterial organisms will multiply in your mouth.

But bad bacteria don't attack your teeth on purpose. Once they have eaten the sugars present in a mouth, they release an acidic byproduct. This acidic byproduct then attacks the enamel surface of teeth. While it takes time to damage teeth, eventually, exposure to this acid will erode tooth enamel, leading to dental cavities.

More Sugar Means Less Good Bacteria

There are good bacteria in your mouth too. And these good strains of bacteria help to defend your mouth against the bad strains of bacteria. But the good strains of bacteria generally need oxygen to survive in your mouth.

Unfortunately, the more sugar you eat, the more bad bacteria present in your mouth. These bad bacteria create oxygen-deprived biofilms on your teeth. The good bacterial strains cannot survive in these harsh environments. Because of that, if you eat a regular supply of processed sugar, your teeth will have more bad bacteria than good bacteria. As a result, you'll have a higher risk of tooth decay.

Less Sugar, Less Chance of Tooth Decay

Although sugar itself won't damage your tooth enamel, it will feed the bad bacteria that do damage your tooth enamel. As such, if you have been suffering from tooth decay, cut down on your intake of processed sugars. If you like sweet foods, try eating more food natural sugars, such as those found in fruit.

And one surefire way of keeping bad oral bacteria to a minimum, besides brushing your teeth, is to drink plenty of water. Water washes bad bacteria out of your mouth. It also helps to clean food debris off your teeth, therefore depriving bad bacteria of much of the food it needs to thrive.

Sugar won't damage your teeth. But the bad bacteria that consume that sugar will.

Contact a dentist to learn more.