Dental Cavities and the Role Sugar Plays
You must have heard many people saying that sugar rots teeth or sugar causes cavities. There is a definite link between eating sugar and cavities forming. With Halloween around the corner, and our dental office being in Salem, MA, the Halloween capital of the world, we wanted to talk about the relationship between sugar and cavities.
A cavity by definition is an empty space within a solid object. So, a dental cavity is an empty space within a tooth. The empty space is first created by the destruction of a tooth’s enamel. The enamel is the hard, outer layer of a tooth.
How does the enamel break down? Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on teeth. (Plaque formation starts within 20 minutes of eating food.) When we eat and drink foods containing sugars, the sugar content acts as a catalyst to forming plaque and tartar buildup. The bacteria in the plaque produce acids that attack the enamel.
Because plaque is sticky, it keeps the acid in contact with the teeth, and over time, if not removed, the enamel will erode. This erosion of enamel is when a cavity is formed. If unattended for a prolonged period, there may be tooth loss.
This is how sugar forms cavities. Even if sugar does not directly cause cavities, it increases the chances of cavity formation and it can even be considered that sugar begins the process of cavity formation. Thus, there is a clear relationship between sugar and cavities.
With Halloween, comes the eating of candy which has high sugar content. But it is very likely that consuming too much sugar might lead to cavities. It is important that we do not allow the sugar and the plaque to stay on our teeth for long periods of time.
What we recommend is:
- Brushing twice a day and even throw in an extra time on days such as Halloween, when you consume a lot of sugar.
- Floss daily.
- Eat nutritious and balanced meals.
- Eat sugary foods only during mealtime.
- Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and exams.
The link between sugar and cavities is clear and undeniable. It is essential to follow the above tips to maintain good oral health, especially if you have a sweet tooth and can’t bear to stop eating desserts. You don’t need to cut sugar out of your diet entirely, but you do need to take care of your teeth and prevent the formation of cavities.