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How Sugar Affects Dental Health

Sugar Consumption And Poor Oral Health Go Hand-In-Hand


The holidays have passed, but the impact of those sugary treats you may have eaten has not. After a holiday, most of us go on and on about its consequences to our waistlines, but our teeth are probably suffering, too. Sugar consumption and poor oral health go hand-in-hand.

People consume an estimated 130 pounds of sugar per person per year. That isn’t a ton, but it is excessive! Sugar consumption can negatively impact your overall health in the following ways:

  • An expanding waistline
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type II diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • and Cavities

How Sugar Consumption Causes Cavities

The severity of sugar’s impact on your teeth can vary depending on the amount, type and form of sugar consumed, but the effects remain the same – cavities. However, the total amounts of sugar you eat have less of an impact on your teeth than how often you consume the sugar.

Sugar consumed in liquid form, such as sodas or juices, gets into every hard-to-reach nook and cranny in your mouth. Even with regular brushing, those sugars can be difficult to reach encouraging the growth of harmful bacteria.

Chewing foods laden with sugar can leave larger-than-normal amounts of sugar residue on your teeth. Your saliva will not wash away this residue. And harmful bacteria are invited to wreak havoc on your tooth enamel.

Unless you brush after eating small amounts of sugar often, eating large amounts not very often is better for your tooth enamel. A 12-oz can of soda is not as harmful to your tooth enamel if you drink all of it in a few minutes versus sipping those 12 ounces over a few hours. Here’s why:

Plaque, a sticky substance, is always forming on your teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria. The bacteria contained in the plaque feeds on the sugar in foods you eat or drink. Acids are created in about 20 seconds and last for about 30 minutes. Those acids can destroy your tooth enamel over time. Acidic environments promote cavities.

Sugar Consumption Causes Issues That Go Beyond Cavities

Severe erosion can lead to issues that go far beyond a cavity. It can lead to:

  • extreme changes in your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth come together)
  • a significant reduction in the size of your back teeth
  • tooth loss and/or extraction of unhealthy teeth
  • the replacement of dental work
  • gum surgery
  • dental implants

Cavities And Issues Caused By Sugar Consumption Can Be Prevented

Yes, cavities and deeper issues caused by tooth decay can be prevented, but how? Sugar is in almost everything we eat, every day, all year long. Here’s how:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice each day
  • Floss your teeth at least once each day
  • Rinse your mouth with mouthwash
  • See your dentist at least twice a year for teeth cleaning and checkups
  • And of course, avoid foods high in sugar

Go a step farther. Reduce your overall sugar consumption. Incorporate these 6 simple changes daily:

  • Eat a variety of real foods from each of the five major food groups –
  1. Protein (beef, chicken, wild-caught fish, dry beans, peas and other legumes). Eating more protein will curb your craving for sweets.
  2. Fresh fruits
  3. Fresh vegetables
  4. Whole grains
  5. Dairy products
  • Drink half your weight in ounces of water every day. On extremely hot days and when you exercise, you should drink even more water. For example, if you weigh 200lbs, you should drink 100 ounces of water each day. That’s about six 16-oz. bottles of water. Keeping your body well hydrated is crucial to your good health. 
  • Eliminate sodas. Drink water, flavored water or green tea instead.
  • Avoid or limit candy, cookies and pastries. Limiting your consumption of them to small servings once or twice a week can greatly reduce your sugar consumption.
  • Limit snacks. Eating five or six smaller meals throughout the day will provide optimal energy and health. Choose healthful snacks like raw vegetables and fruits, cheese, peanut butter or nuts and nut butters. By the way, cheese stops the acid attacks from sugar on your teeth.
  • Beware of product labels that read “low-sugar” or “sugar-free.” Many low-sugar or sugar-free products use artificial sweeteners. There are potential health risks associated with use of artificial sweeteners. Research shows they can still create an acidic environment in your mouth.

A Permanent Remedy for Tooth Decay Caused By Excessive Sugar Consumption

If sugar consumption has caused tooth decay, tooth loss or other poor oral health issues, don’t wait. Call SA Family Dental at (210) 774-6427. Ask for a free consultation to discuss your options. Choose to restore your oral health and a great self-image today.



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