Sugar and Your Teeth

On December 10, 2015 / By Zöe Dental

Most people have heard the warning: sugar will rot your teeth! With all the advances in dental care over the past several decades, you may wonder whether heeding that warning is still as necessary as it used to be. After all, you brush after every meal and see the best dentist in Asheville for regular cleanings and state-of-the-art care, right? So how bad can that candy bar really be?

A Tasty Treat for Bacteria

Sugar doesn’t just eat away at your teeth by itself. Bacteria in your mouth feed on particles left behind after you eat, creating plaque. It’s plaque that gnaws away at your tooth enamel. That’s how cavities are created.

It isn’t just refined sugars — like what you find in candy or soft drinks — that feed bacteria, though. Bacteria feed on any kind of carbs, even those left behind by something “innocent,” like carrot sticks or vegetable juice. That’s why it’s important to brush after eating, no matter what you eat.

Visiting your dentist in Asheville helps, but he can’t just knock out all the bacteria because some of the bacteria in your mouth actually help keep you healthy. Good oral hygiene, including regular visits with your dentist in Asheville, can keep your mouth clean and plaque-free, but bacteria must stay.

Stick Around

Your saliva, or spit, plays a big role in keeping your mouth clean. It rinses away sugars and food particles so bacteria can’t feed on them. The problem with many foods that contain sugar is that they tend to be sticky. So while the bacteria in your mouth would love to chew on the bits of carrot left between your molars, your saliva washes them away quickly so they’re out of harm’s reach.

That’s not true if you’ve just eaten a gooey, chewy, sticky candy bar or a caramel apple. Bits of these foods stay stuck tight, feeding the cavity machine, until you brush. And even then, they find the crevices of your teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach. It’s not uncommon for your dentist in Asheville to find cavities where sugars have stuck fast and couldn’t get brushed away.

Keep It Clean

So how can you keep your mouth cavity-free between visits to your dentist in Asheville? First, limit food and drink with lots of refined sugar, such as candy, cakes and soft drinks. When choosing snacks, stay away from food that can get stuck between your teeth or in deep grooves. Fresh fruits and vegetables are better for your teeth than fruit chews or potato chips.  Also, sipping on soft drinks or other sweetened beverages throughout the day essentially bathes your teeth in sugar. If you must have something sweet to drink, drink it quickly and then rinse your mouth with water.

Finally, make sure you brush at least twice a day. Pay extra attention to your molars, where sticky foods can accumulate. Use a mouth rinse before brushing to remove any loose particles. Drink plenty of water with meals and in between, to help wash sugars away. And of course, make sure you keep up with regular cleanings with your dentist in Asheville. Remember the other old admonition: you’re already plenty sweet enough — you don’t need to load up on sugar! 😉