Other dietary components besides sugar can harm your smile. For example, the enamel that shields your teeth is worn away by acid-containing foods and drinks, a process known as tooth erosion. This alters the appearance of your teeth and allows bacteria to enter, which can lead to cavities or infection.
The Impact of Sugar on Tooth
When you eat something sweet, the oral bacteria in your mouth break down any remaining sugars and release acid as a waste product. While enamel is durable, it cannot withstand repetitive acid exposure. The acid eliminates necessary minerals like calcium and phosphorus by demineralizing or decalcifying enamel. During remineralization, some minerals are redeposited into tooth enamel as the mouth becomes less acidic. But over time, exposure to acid on a regular basis causes the enamel to erode to the point where a hole or cavity is formed.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay, also known as “dental caries,” occurs when acid from the mouth attacks the enamel and dentine of the teeth, resulting in the formation of holes or cavities. The acid is created by bacteria within the plaque, and a sticky and thin coating regularly accumulates across the teeth. Sugar interacts with the bacteria in the plaque to make acid when eaten. As this acid, holes, or cavities slowly dissolve, the enamel is created in the teeth, which is what causes tooth decay. Although tooth enamel is durable, excessive acid exposure can cause it to weaken and demineralize. Mineral loss in the teeth can lead to erosion and decay. In addition, tooth decay can cause abscesses, which may necessitate extraction of the affected tooth. Examples of foods high in sugar:
- Energy drinks and soft drinks
- Flavored milk
- Biscuits and cakes
- Chocolate and candies
- Certain breakfast cereals and cereal bars
The acid in drinks slowly erodes teeth, causing wear. So, it’s crucial to keep your consumption of acidic drinks to a minimum. Examples of acidic drinks include:
- Lemon/citrus fruits added to water
- Fizzy drinks, especially soda water
- Fruit juice
What Does Tooth Erosion Do to My Teeth?
Tooth erosion is a permanent condition. So, if your enamel has started to wear away, you might:
- Feel pain or sensitivity when drinking hot, cold, or sweet drinks.
- Notice a yellowish discoloration of your teeth.
- Discover that your fillings have changed.
- Increase your chances of getting more cavities over time.
- Develop an abscess in extreme cases.
- Experience tooth loss in extreme cases.
- If erosion happens, you may require fillings, crowns, a root canal, or tooth extraction. Another alternative to improve the appearance of your smile might be veneers.
Tips for Protecting Your Teeth
You can prevent tooth erosion caused by what you eat and drink by following these tips:
- Allow your saliva to naturally wash acids away after eating acidic foods and re-harden your enamel by waiting an hour before brushing.
- Limit or avoid acidic drinks, such as soft drinks. When indulging, sip with a straw.
- Avoid swishing or holding liquids in your mouth longer than necessary when drinking anything like a soft drink. Instead, sip it and then swallow it.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating or drinking anything acidic. Then, follow it up with milk or a cheese snack. Dairy and other calcium-rich foods can neutralize acids.
- Saliva aids in the regulation of acids. Chew sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to keep your saliva flowing and your teeth protected.
- Look for oral health products that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This signifies the product is safe and effective. And several have been awarded the ADA Seal specifically. Because they help prevent and decrease enamel erosion caused by dietary acids.
Your dentist can help you understand how your diet, including the foods and drinks consumed, can affect your oral health. The best way to ensure that your teeth stay healthy and beautiful throughout your life is to learn as much as possible about the connection between diet and oral health. Your sugar consumption might have a significant impact on your overall oral health. Excess sugar promotes bacterial development, damaging your protective tooth enamel and causing dental decay.
Need Help with Your Teeth?
While avoiding sugary foods is a good start, it is only one component of a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing, flossing, and frequent dental checkups can prevent tooth decay, making you feel healthier and more confident about your smile. Contact us at SkyRise Dental if you live in Thornhill, Ontario, and have any questions! We will be happy to assist you!