Ask the Dentist: Does Sugar Cause Cavities?
“Does Sugar Cause Cavities?
This is an age-old question we hear from many of our patients, and our answer may surprise you.
Sugar in itself isn’t bad for your teeth — it’s what the combination of sugar and bacteria in your mouth does that is harmful to your teeth.
When you eat something sugary, little bits of the sugar stick to your teeth, hiding in the cracks and crevices. While this in and of itself doesn’t matter too much, the real problem is that our mouths also harbor the strep bacteria in those same little cracks and crevices.
Strep bacteria likes to hang out on the plaque buildup on our teeth. What’s more, the bacteria loves to “eat” the sugar. Now that sounds like it could be a good thing, because if the bacteria eat the sugar, it gets it off our teeth, right? Yes and no: when the bacteria feed on the sugar, they excrete acids, and it ends up being the acids that cause the problem!
Even though the enamel of our teeth is the hardest mineral substance in our bodies, it is very susceptible to damage from acids. When acids are in contact with tooth enamel for very long, the acid begins to erode the enamel, eventually causing decay to begin. Before you know it, cavities are appearing everywhere.
That’s why trained dental professionals, like those at 1st Family Dental, remind us us to brush our teeth twice daily, floss regularly and get regular checkups twice a year that include a professional cleaning.
Does Sugar Cause Cavities? It’s not the amount of sugar you eat that matters. Rather, the important relationship is how long the sugar stays on your teeth – the longer it stays, the longer it is available to be consumed by the bacteria and the more acids are produced.
So the secret is to brush and floss after eating foods with sugars in them, and see a trained dentist regularly. Keeping the acids and plaque buildup down should help eliminate some of the cavities you get, even if you do like to eat sugars.