Extra sugar can increases the risk of developing cavities
Is sugar to be blamed for your cavities?
Sugar, cavities, and Halloween are upon us. Halloween is a time for trick-or-treating, and for most kids (and many adults) that means it’s also time for lots of candy and other sweet goodies. That’s the “treat” part. The “trick” part of trick-or-treating usually comes later, when all those sugary snacks cause toothaches and cavities. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can enjoy your Halloween candy and still keep your teeth healthy and sound. The key is to understand how sugar interacts with your teeth so you can take steps to prevent decay and other problems.
Sugar and Cavities: A Complicated Relationship
You might think sugar causes cavities directly, but actually, it’s bacteria that cause tooth decay. Your mouth contains millions of tiny bacteria — some good for your teeth and health, and some bad. It’s those bad bacteria that cause cavities by breaking down the protective enamel coating on the surfaces of your teeth. Normally, the “good” bacteria in your mouth help balance out the “bad” bacteria.
But when you add extra sugar, the balance changes. As it turns out, bad bacteria love sugar as much as you do. In fact, it’s their main food source. When you give those bacteria extra “doses” of sugar from candy and other sweet treats, they go into overdrive, multiplying rapidly and releasing acid byproducts. Those acids act directly on your tooth enamel, breaking it down and exposing the softer inner tooth material. The weak enamel lets bad bacteria enter the interior portion of your tooth — and that’s when cavities occur. Bottom line: Sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, but it does increase your risk for decay by “feeding” bad, acid-producing bacteria.
You and Your Dentist: A Cavity-Fighting Team
Now you know how sugar increases your risk of developing cavities. The next step is understanding what you can do to prevent them. The good news is, preventing cavities isn’t all that difficult. It starts with having good oral hygiene habits at home. That means regular brushing and flossing, typically when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. If you’ve indulged in goodies during the day, you should also rinse well afterward to remove excess sugars so they don’t wind up feeding harmful bacteria. You can brush if you like, but just be sure to wait a half hour or so after eating. Why? Because when you eat, your enamel temporarily softens, and if your brush before it has a chance to harden again, you can wind up damaging the enamel — especially if you brush hard or rigorously.
The second way to prevent sugar from causing cavities is to choose your snacks wisely. If you plan on snacking on sweets, try to avoid foods that are sticky. Chewy, sticky foods tend to cling to your tooth surfaces, and they can also get caught between your teeth and along the gum line. That gives bacteria a lot more time to feed and multiply, which makes it more likely you’ll develop a cavity later one.
Finally, to really give your teeth and gums the healthy protection they need, you should see your dentist regularly — typically once every six months for a cleaning and exam. Routine office visits can identify issues early on, before they become major problems. Your hygienist and dentist can also provide you with special treatments to help you avoid cavities and gum disease, a major cause of tooth loss in the U.S.
Top-Quality Care for a Beautiful, Healthy Smile
Of course, if you do need fillings, you’ve got lots of options. While metal amalgam fillings are still available (and a good choice for some situations), at Smile Workshop, we also offer tooth-colored fillings made from special, durable materials designed to bond better with the surrounding tooth material. Plus, just like their name implies, tooth-colored fillings blend in, leaving you with a smile you’ll be proud to show off. As a top provider of dental services in Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Amarillo, we also offer state-of-the-art preventative care treatments aimed at helping you keep your teeth and gums in great shape so you can avoid problems in the future.
Good oral health starts with you, and the first step toward a healthier mouth is to schedule an appointment. To schedule your exam or cleaning at one of our locations near you, visit our contact page or give us a call at 1-888-833-8404 today.