A Closer Look at How Sugar Impacts Your Oral Health

A Closer Look at How Sugar Impacts Your Oral Health

There’s more to treating your mouth right than just brushing and flossing regularly. Sure, those are the bedrocks of good oral health, but what you eat and drink impacts the likelihood you’ll be dealing with decay, cavities, and worse down the road.

Most people have heard that consuming sweet, sugary foods isn’t great for your smile, but we’re going to talk about exactly what sugar does to your teeth and how it does its damage. Often, it’s easier to adopt a healthy habit, like reducing those sweet indulgences, when you understand the “why.”

Dr. Ali Saeghi has extensive knowledge of how to keep your teeth their healthiest, and partners with you to do just that at Modern Age Dentistry. This might mean getting a dental implant if you’ve lost a tooth, performing an emergency dental procedure, or correcting an orthodontic issue with InvisalignⓇ treatment. 

Dr. Saeghi and the Modern Age team are also ready to provide important routine cleaning and check-ups at our offices in Atwater Village, West Hills, and Ojai, California. In short, we’ve got you covered no matter what service you need! 

The sugar and oral health conundrum

Even though sugar is harmful to your teeth, it’s not possible to cut consumption of it entirely. This is because sugar is in most foods, not just those we associate with cavities, like candy and sweet soda drinks. 

For example, sugar is in milk, fruit, starches, and other foods we typically deem “healthy.” 

The problem is that sugars contained in foods react with the bacteria that are always present in your mouth, and when food enters your mouth, it can actually draw bad bacteria to it, which leads to the production of sticky plaque. 

Unless this plaque is removed by thorough brushing and twice yearly professional cleanings, it lingers on your teeth and creates a more acidic environment in your mouth, which is conducive to cavities. 

When the pH level (the acid/alkaline balance) of your mouth becomes more acidic and reads below 5.5, the high acidity begins to break down minerals and destroy the protective enamel on your teeth. Then your teeth are very vulnerable to cavities.

The negative effects of different types of sugar on your teeth

As we said, it’s impossible to limit sugar completely, but let’s look at the types that are most harmful to your mouth, and how to avoid them.

We’re inundated with offers to enjoy foods and beverages that are high in refined sugar, which is definitely not a friend to your teeth. We’re talking about things like ice cream, highly processed snack foods like potato chips, and sugary soft drinks. 

For example, did you know that one 12-ounce can of orange soda has a whopping 13 teaspoons of sugar in it? Pretty alarming, right? That’s enough sugar to make your teeth cry!

Now, all sugars are not created equal. It’s much better for your teeth if you eat, for example, a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato, because the sugars in the bread, tomato, lettuce, and cheese are natural and less harmful. However, it’s still important to brush them away after eating. 

If plaque isn’t removed from your teeth for a prolonged period of time, you develop early stage gum disease, known as gingivitis. If this doesn’t get treated, it progresses to periodontitis, or advanced gum disease, which can lead to bone and tooth loss. 

Are there things I can eat and drink to support my oral health?

There certainly are! 

Simply staying well hydrated stimulates saliva production. Saliva contains beneficial minerals that strengthen your teeth, and it neutralizes acids that break down tooth enamel. 

Better-for-your-teeth foods to gravitate to include certain meats like chicken, nuts, and cheeses, which contain calcium and phosphorus. They remineralize your teeth. Calcium-rich veggies like spinach and broccoli are also good. 

Crunchy foods like celery, apples, and cucumbers have lots of water in them, which helps dilute the foods’ sugars and, again, helps you produce saliva. 

Highly acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits can be somewhat neutralized if eaten along with other foods. 

Limit your consumption of dried fruits like raisins, as well as alcoholic beverages. 

If you indulge in dessert, do so right after your meal, since the chewing you’ve done produces more saliva than you’d have in your mouth if you ate just that treat. 

Dr. Saeghi and everyone at Modern Age Dentistry do all they can to educate you about how to take care of your teeth, provide the most advanced dental care, and treat you with dignity and compassion.

Call the Modern Age office location that’s most convenient to you to schedule your appointment, or book one online

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