The truth about sugar and your teeth

A picture of some much sweets - Luis Aguila

Sugar is a staple in many of our favourite foods and drinks. And it’s no secret that it can wreak havoc on our teeth and causes dental problems like tooth decay. From childhood, we’ve been told that sugar causes cavities, and while this is true, the truth about sugar and its effects on our teeth is more complex than we may think. Recent research from University College London has shown that the escalating consumption, particularly in baby food and drinks, is contributing to a worldwide oral health crisis. This finding highlights the need for greater awareness of the effects of sugar on our teeth and the importance of reducing our sugar intake. While sugar may make our food and drinks more enjoyable, it is essential to understand the impact it has on our teeth and take steps to protect our dental health.

What happens in our mouth when we eat sugar

When we consume sugary foods and drinks, the bacteria in our mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid as a byproduct. This acid can erode the protective enamel on our teeth, leading to the development of cavities. But it’s not just the amount we consume that matters, it’s also the frequency and duration of exposure.

Eating sugary foods and drinks frequently throughout the day creates a constant supply of things to feed on for bacteria. The habit creates a sugar rich environment in our mouth which leads to a higher risk of tooth decay. Additionally, sticky and chewy foods, such as candy and dried fruit, can cling to our teeth for longer periods, increasing the amount of time bacteria have to produce acid.

But it’s not just the obvious sources of sugar that we need to be mindful of. Many processed foods, such as bread, pasta sauce, and even some types of yogurt, contain added sugars that can contribute to tooth decay. It’s important to read food labels and be aware of the hidden sugars in our diets.

So, what can we do to protect our teeth from the harmful effects of sugar? Here are a few tips:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene: Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. In addition, flossing daily removes plaque and prevent the buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

  2. Limit sugary foods and drinks: Choose water or milk instead of sugary drinks. In combination to limiting sweets, cookies, and other sweet-like snacks to occasional treats.

  3. Choose tooth-friendly snacks: Snack on fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, and nuts instead of sugary or starchy snacks.

  4. Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental checkups can catch tooth decay early and prevent more extensive dental problems.

In conclusion, while sugar is not the sole cause of tooth decay, it does play a significant role. By being mindful of our sugar intake and practicing good oral hygiene habits, we can protect our teeth and enjoy our favorite sweet treats in moderation.