Sugar and the Role It Plays in Your Oral Health

16 July 2021
 Categories: Dentist, Blog

Sugar can play a significant role in the health of your teeth and gums. Many people already know that eating too much sugar is associated with tooth decay. However, they may not understand how sugar is actually involved in the mechanism of decay.

Here is a bit of information about sugar and the role it plays in your oral health.

Sugar Alone Does Not Cause Tooth Decay

Sugar alone does not cause cavities. Instead, tooth decay is actually caused by oral acids.

Simple sugars are the main food of harmful microorganisms that live in the mouth. As these bacteria feed on sugar, they produce digestive byproducts, including acidic waste. The acid released by the bacteria dissolves the enamel of the teeth. This dissolution process is called tooth decay.

Sugar Is Found in More Than Just Sweets

The body uses enzymes in your saliva to break down carbohydrates to form glucose. Thus, when you eat a potato chip or a cracker and those foods come in contact with your saliva, their carbohydrate content forms a simple sugar that can be digested by oral microbes.  

As you choose your snacks, keep in mind that a starchy snack can be just as detrimental to the acid content in your mouth as a sugary item.

Blood Sugar Levels Can Affect the Sugars in the Mouth

The sugars that are present in your mouth can increase as your blood sugar rises. People with diabetes who suffer from uncontrolled blood sugar levels may also see an increase in dental decay.

As a result, it is important for people with diabetes to take their medications as prescribed and moderate their diet as suggested.

Sugar Substitutes May Not Promote Tooth Decay

Sugar-free items often contain sugar substitutes that do not promote tooth decay. Some items, such as sugarless gum may actually be good for your oral health.

By chewing sugarless gum after meals and snacks, you can remove leftover food particles from your mouth. Additionally, the act of chewing can incite an increase in the flow of your saliva, which helps dilute the acids in the oral cavity.

Some sugarless gum even includes antimicrobial ingredients to help reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth.

If you are concerned about the sugar content in your diet and how it may be affecting your oral health, then schedule a consultation with a dentist in your local area today.