Tooth decay happens for a variety of reasons, and although sugar itself can certainly lead to cavity formation, it doesn’t do it by itself.
So what exactly is sugar’s role in dental caries? Here we discover how cavities form and what
sugar has to do with it.
Sugar Leads to Bad Bacteria
Everyone has bacteria in their oral cavity. In fact, some of these bacteria are very helpful to our
smiles. Of course, bad bacteria exist too, and maintaining a balance between these good and
bad bacteria in our mouths is often what helps us prevent tooth decay and other oral health
problems such as gum disease.
When sugar is introduced into the oral cavity, it produces more bad bacteria in the form of
harmful acids that can attack tooth enamel. It upsets the balance of bacteria and turns the pH
of our saliva more acidic, which can quickly harm tooth enamel and begin the process of
forming a cavity.
Other Foods That Harm Your Teeth
Besides sugar, there are other foods that can cause the mouth to become more acidic and
cause these bacteria to harm your teeth. These include carbohydrates such as those found in
bread, crackers, chips, and even pasta. These carbohydrates are turned into simple sugars,
which in turn, feed bacteria and cause acid.
While sugar usually takes center stage when it comes to tooth decay, often, other foods can be
just as harmful as sugar when it comes to cavities. It’s important to eat foods that help nourish
your smile and maintain a healthy bacteria balance, such as vegetables.
How to Stop the Damage
You can help prevent sugar and other simple carbohydrates from damaging your smile by
adopting a few simple habits. The first, of course, is to minimize these sugars in your diet as
much as possible. You can still eat these foods in moderation. When you do, be sure to:
Rinse with water. Rinsing your mouth with water after consuming these foods can help
create a buffer between the bad bacteria and your teeth, helping to reduce your risk of
Wait to brush. Although some people think brushing immediately after meals is the
answer, in truth, this practice can be very damaging to teeth. Our tooth enamel is
porous and can become softer after we eat. You should ideally aim to wait at least 30
minutes after eating or drinking sweet beverages before brushing.
Visit your dentist. Your dentist can help ensure your tooth enamel is healthy and stay
on top of any enamel damage to help prevent cavities.
So there you have it— while sugar certainly plays a role in cavity formation, in and of itself,
sugar isn’t solely to blame. There are other foods that are just as responsible for causing tooth
decay as sugar. Be sure to visit your dentist to help stop cavity formation and adopt healthier
practices to keep your smile beautiful for life!