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A man and his son brush their teeth in Parker, CO

The Truth About Sugar and Your Teeth: What You Need to Know

No doubt you have heard throughout your life that sugar is bad for your teeth. You know that sugar can cause cavities, but do you know why it is so bad? Here’s the truth: it’s not really the sugar that is the problem. The problem with your sweet tooth is that cavity-causing bacteria have a sweet tooth too! When you limit your intake of sugar, you lessen the number of bad bacteria feeding on the sugar in your mouth, and this improves your dental health.

The Link Between Sugar and Cavities

Cavities are holes in the surface of your teeth, caused by tooth decay. Even small cavities can cause big problems, like toothaches, infections, and lost teeth. What causes cavities? Bacteria in your mouth form a biofilm known as plaque, which sticks to your teeth. It’s hard to remove this plaque with brushing alone, and acids produced by the bacteria eat into the tooth enamel, causing a bigger problem the longer the plaque remains on the teeth. The holes this creates allow bacteria to continue to move deeper into the tooth, eventually reaching the soft dentin layer. Once that layer is breached, there will be pain and sensitivity as the bacteria move deeper, into the tooth pulp and then the jawbone. What does this have to do with sugar? Sugar provides a feast for bacteria, allowing them to thrive and grow, easily forming plaque and penetrating the tooth.

Sugar and Gum Disease

Cavities are not the only problem caused by sugar consumption. As plaque develops on the teeth, it begins to move into the gum tissue. Bacteria can quickly grow and multiply around the base of your teeth, causing pockets of infection in the gums. This is periodontitis, gum disease that leads to painful, bleeding gums, tooth loss, and bone disease in the jawbone. The more sugar consumed, the more bacteria will grow and the worse the periodontal disease will become.

Preventative Measures to Protect Your Teeth

In the early stages, most people aren’t even aware they have a cavity. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your teeth, being proactive about dental health. See your dentist regularly, brush and floss, and practice healthy eating habits to keep your teeth in their best possible condition. Brushing and flossing can help remove plaque, and seeing a dentist can help catch problems before they become major issues. While it is important to limit sugar in your diet, it can be difficult to do, because sugar is in almost every food. The worst foods for your teeth are sweets and foods that stay on your teeth, like chewy foods, carbohydrates, and dried fruit. Removing the sugar from your teeth as soon as possible after eating these foods can help prevent plaque buildup. Drink plenty of water to rinse away food particles, eat crunchy fruits and vegetables to help clean the surface of your teeth, and eat foods high in fiber and protein and fiber, like leafy greens, nuts, and cheese, to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

Signature Smiles Dentistry Helps Keep Your Teeth Healthy

At Signature Smiles Dentistry, we treat our patients like family. Our happy team creates a safe and welcoming environment, where patients can relax in a place of comfort, care, and expertise. Because we understand the fear that can come with a dental visit, we dedicate ourselves to learning about each of our patients and working to alleviate that fear. Providing general, cosmetic, and restorative services in Parker, CO, we use the latest equipment to provide our patients with the very best service and care. Our team is knowledgeable and passionate about their work, and, under the direction of Dr. Gunning, a dedicated cosmetic dentist, we provide patients with comprehensive care unique to their situation. For more information about how we can help you find your signature smile, call us at 720-465-7796 or contact us through our website.