How sugar ruins your teeth

How sugar ruins your teeth

The dangers of sugar are more and more highlighted these days, with many choosing to cut out the delicious tasting additive.

It leads to truly painful and expensive tooth decay. You eat the sugar, the harmful bacteria Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sorbrinus, that sits on your teeth gobble up the sweet stuff and release acids that form plaque that eats away at your tooth enamel, leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.  

If you don’t drink enough water or brush and floss regularly, your saliva can’t flush away harmful substances effectively. The oral environment becomes acidic with a ph level of less than 5.5, and that is when the protective layer of enamel on your teeth is dissolved. You end up with gum disease and cavities, among other complications. 

Gum disease usually presents as:

  • Swollen, red or tender gums.
  • Separating or loose teeth, receding gum lines.
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste.
  • Bleeding gums or pus-filled sacs between your gums and your teeth or a change in your bite. 

According to Healthline, when acids strip away tooth enamel, this is known as demineralisation. The upside to this is your saliva is in a constant battle to reverse this damage through a natural remineralisation process.

Saliva firstly flushes away bacteria and acids. At the same time, minerals found in salivae such as calcium and phosphate and the fluoride from your toothpaste and water help the enamel repair itself by replacing the minerals lost in the battle against the acids.

Bitter-sweet effects

Sugar is everywhere, in plain sight in sweets, chocolates and baked goods or hidden in highly processed foods or even in foods labelled healthy. 

No matter the form sugar appears in, the bottom line is sugar causes cavities. You have to learn to read the labels and if it says: maple syrup, honey, granulated sugar, molasses, corn syrup, amazake, fructose, carob powder, evaporated cane juice, maltose, dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup or fruit juice concentrate – put the package back on the shelf.

Health foods such as smoothies, instant oats to eat on the go, salad dressing, yoghurt, trail mix, and health bars all come loaded with sugar. The safest bet is to make you own zero sugar foods or snacks.

According to Dental Choice, you’re consuming too much sugar when you present with these signs:

  • Exhausted all the time
  • Depressed and anxious
  • Acne break-outs
  • Aches, pains and bloating due to inflammation
  • Crash-out after exercising
  • High cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • You always feel hungry and thirsty and never feel full after meals.
  • And lastly, you have cavities. 

Consume less sugar

If you want healthy teeth and gums, you have to consume less sugar – that is, no more than 48 grams a day which is about 10% of your recommended daily calorie intake. 

Most people consume around 100 grams of sugar a day, so don’t follow the crowd, rather change your dietary habits.

You can start by not letting sugary foods such as hard sweets sit around in your mouth. Those sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices don’t spend the whole day sipping from on your drink as that would mean prolonged exposure of sugar to your teeth and gums.

If you must indulge, ensure that you drink some tap water with fluoride afterwards to dissolve acids and flush it away immediately. 

According to Dental Choice, the best time to eat sugary foods is before a meal or to limit drinking sugary sodas or soft drinks to mealtimes. And drink these through a straw so that there is limited exposure to sugar as it with pass through the mouth quickly. 

During mealtimes, while you chew your way through your meal, you’ll generate enough saliva to flush out the sugars. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after meals that include sugar, but if you can’t, then munch on a celery stick, an apple or sugar-free chewing gum with Xylitol. 

Many studies were done either with children or adult participants that link snacking on potato chips, tortilla chips, savoury crackers, sugary cereals, cookies and sugary drinks to a greater risk of developing cavities. 

At least two studies found that drinking sugary beverages twice a day tripled participants’ risk of losing up to 6 teeth. 

Watching your diet can save your teeth.

The key to healthy teeth and gums is a balanced wholefood diet, rich in grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein. 

Healthline recommends that you:

  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks, as it doesn’t contain acid, sugar or calories.
  • Munch through raw fruit and vegetables at mealtimes as this increases saliva flow in your mouth.
  • And when it comes to your children, besides limiting their access to sugary or starchy snacks, don’t let them go to sleep with a bottle of fruit juice or milk formula. 

Finally, stick to healthy oral hygiene practices such as brushing at least twice a day with fluoride-based toothpaste, flossing and rinsing with an approved anti-bacterial mouthwash. And visit your dentist for a check-up and clean at least twice a year. 


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