Most of the oral health tips you hear go something like this: Brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and don’t skip your regular cleanings at the dentist.
That’s great advice, and we should all follow it. But it’s missing one vital element of good oral health: Watch what you eat! More specifically, limit how much sugar you let linger in your mouth.
Sugar can wreak havoc on your teeth without you realizing it. At Silicon Valley Dental Associates, we see the terrible effect sugar can have on teeth just about every day. Here’s why sugar is bad for your teeth, along with a few thoughts on how to limit your sugar consumption.
Why sugar is bad for your teeth
Whether you realize it or not, your mouth is full of bacteria, some of which are good and some of which aren’t so good. The problem with eating too much sugar is that the not-so-good bacteria feed on that sugar and use it to create acids that then attack the enamel on your teeth.
The enamel is the protective outer layer of your teeth that makes them shiny and hard. If it wears away over time, your teeth become more susceptible to bacterial infections that can burrow deep into your teeth, causing cavities and possibly even tooth loss.
The good news is that your saliva contains minerals designed to reverse the effects of this demineralization by helping your enamel repair itself, thus strengthening your teeth.
The more times this process occurs, though, the weaker your teeth become. If you cut down on your sugar consumption (especially hard candies and sugary drinks that stay longer in your mouth), you improve your chances of avoiding cavities.
How to fight tooth decay
Start by eating a balanced diet low in sugar and full of grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. It’s fine to occasionally eat sugary foods, but limit the amount. When you do have a sweet treat, drink some water to help dilute the effects of the sugar on your teeth.
You should also consider using a straw when you drink a sugary beverage. This reduces how exposed your teeth are to sugar. You can also chew sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva flow (the minerals do wonders for your teeth) and prevent plaque buildup.
And, of course, don’t forget the basics: Brush at least twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist regularly.
If you’re looking for a dental office to call home, we love to welcome new patients at Silicon Valley Dental Associates. Just contact our office in Sunnyvale, California, to set up your first appointment, and we’ll take care of the rest.
And put down that doughnut!