When the weather is hot and dry like it is in the Arizona summer, do you reach for a soft drink, a sport’s drink, or water to satisfy your thirst? If you answered yes to either of the first two, you might have a sugar addiction. Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert wants to help you understand the dangers that sugar poses to your dental health. There are two big oral health problems caused by sugar:
Tooth decay is caused by harmful bacteria that feed on sugar as food. Here is how it happens: the environment in our mouths is naturally alkaline, while sugar is highly acidic. The sugar we eat and drink is like a magnet for the bacteria. They grow and reproduce in our mouths when we eat sugary snacks and indulge in sweetened drinks.
When bacteria consume sugar, they produce plaque. If plaque is not removed regularly, the acid begins to “drill” tiny holes, much like nooks and crannies, in the enamel. This process creates the perfect environment for bacterial growth in our teeth. Left long enough, the end result is a cavity that needs to be filled.
Calcium, the main component of the enamel, is highly vulnerable to acid. As the acid from sugar continues to attack our teeth, the enamel layer begins to break down. The exposure to acid also robs the tooth of calcium salts—this is called demineralization.
The demineralization of enamel exposes the inner part of the tooth, producing increased sensitivity to hot and cold, as well as sweets. Tooth erosion leads to more cavities, and eventually, tooth loss. In fact, a tooth dropped into a glass of soda will soon dissolve completely.
Stopping the process
As you can see, addiction to sugar can wreak havoc on your dental health. If you have a sugar addiction, you can overcome it. The key is to find foods that satisfy your cravings without creating more problems. Studies by snack food producers discovered that a combination of sugar, salt, and fat will actually stimulate addiction. By eliminating sugar, you can break the addictive urge. Learn to read the labels on the food you buy and avoid all processed foods—almost all of them contain sugar as a main ingredient. Instead, go for a balanced diet of unprocessed whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy, and protein.
At Lifetime Family Dental, we encourage you to take steps to overcome your sweet tooth. Beating a sugar addiction will lead to a healthier lifestyle and greater sense of wellbeing. You will discover a new appreciation for the fuel your body really needs. And for thirsty summer days, drink lots of water!