The relationship between sugar and tooth decay has been well established, yet our diets remain high in sugar.
Sugar can lead to tooth decay and periodontal disease. These negative effects will not only lead to poor oral health, but can contribute to poor overall health. Here is what you need to know to combat these conditions:
Sugar changes acidity
Saliva has a natural acidity. If we brush regularly we can change the PH to create a condition that favors healthy teeth and gums. When we add sugar to our saliva, the sugar is broken down and acid is produced.
This acid will breakdown enamel and lead to cavities.
Depending on the type and quantity of sugar consumed acid levels can remain high for 20 or more minutes.
Types of sugar
The are two main types of sugar. Solid (crystal sugar) and liquid (corn starch). Each of these types create different problems.
Solid sugar leaves large amounts of sticky residue and can get lodged in the grooves of teeth. This makes it difficult for saliva to wash it away.
Liquid sugar will get swished into every nook and cranny. This can adhere sugar to areas that are more difficult to clean and the sugar that is retained in the teeth become food for bacteria. This can lead to periodontal disease, bad breath and decay.
What can we do?
Cutting down on our intake of sugar is always a good idea, we do not have cut it out completely! No one wants to deprive themselves of the foods we love.
It is what you do after you consume sugar that matters most.
Brushing and flossing after sugary snacks will help to remove the sticky residue and reduce the acidity. If you cannot brush right away anything that will increase saliva will also help to reduce the acidity. That is why chewing sugarless gum after sugary snacks works.
It is my belief that we should enjoy life, but be prepared to reduce the effects of sugar on your teeth and gums.