Almost every parent in America has told their children that sugar is the primary enemy for their teeth. But is sugar really worse than other foods? At Lifetime Family Dental, your family dentist in Gilbert AZ, we suggest a diet low in sugar for many reasons, along with recommending a regular oral care routine. Read on to find out why!
Is Sugar Really THE Bad Guy in the Dental World?
Well . . . Yes. And . . . No. It’s a bit more complicated than giving you a simple affirmative answer. If you’ve read any of our previous blog posts, you’ll know that bad bacteria in the mouth is the culprit responsible for opening the door to tooth decay. Harmful bacteria feeds on the carbohydrates that are left on your teeth after eating—and that includes simple-sugar carbs like candy or soda. But, bacteria also goes after the carbohydrates from foods like whole grains and fruits and veggies.
In the process of digesting the carbohydrates you eat, the bacteria makes an acid that combines with your saliva to produce plaque, which works to demineralize your tooth enamel. Plaque and its demineralization of your enamel lead to tooth decay. After every single meal you consume, plaque begins to build. If it’s not washed away, it will eventually cause dental caries— AKA cavities.
As for sugar, studies have been done that show a correlation between frequent eating or drinking of sugary foods and an increase in cavities. One Finnish study shows that people who drank 1-2 sugary drinks per day had a 31% increase in cavities when compared to those who did not consume sugary drinks. In addition, countries where simple sugar intake was higher (e.g., sugars added by a manufacturer) had higher rates of dental caries (cavities), while countries with lower rates of simple sugar intake experienced lower rates of cavities.
A Good Plan for Your Teeth
So, the short and long of it is this: limit your simple sugar ingestion to no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake. Your teeth will thank you, as will your entire body. Brush your teeth after meals, and you’ll help to negate the process of bacteria-to-acid-to-plaque development. And floss once a day to scrape your teeth clean and clear away food particles from those hard-to-reach spots. If you like, you can also add a quality mouthwash to your daily dental regimen. In addition, plan 2 dental cleanings per year, so a hygienist can professionally clear away any buildup of tartar and plaque.
We’re your family dentist in Gilbert AZ, and we’d like to help you avoid cavities and tooth wear. If you have questions, please call us at Lifetime Family Dental and schedule an appointment. And stay tuned in our next blog post to discover foods that can be beneficial for your oral care.