The Impact of Sugary Foods and Drinks on Oral Health

oral health

With the increasing availability of useful information, people are learning about the harmful effects of sugar on overall health. Sugar is used in many foods and drinks, making it vital to understand how it affects oral health.

All the food consumed daily goes through the mouth, making it a host for harmful and beneficial bacteria. Sugar leads to increased bacteria production and the formation of acids that attack the tooth enamel.

How Sugar Affects Oral Health

Sugary foods and drinks nurture bacteria that create acidic plaque on the enamel. Sugar affects oral health in various ways, including:

  • Tooth decay

  • Dental erosion

  • Dental cavities

  • Gum disease

Of the sugar used in numerous foods and drinks, refined or processed sugar is the most harmful. Besides sugar, many beverages also contain acids that are harmful to the teeth.

Changing Mouth Acidity

Two harmful bacteria that exist in the mouth are Streptococcus sobrinus and Streptococcus mutants. They feed on sugar, creating plaque, the sticky substance that forms on the teeth. Brushing the teeth and saliva helps wash away plaque. If it remains and accumulates on the teeth, it becomes acidic. The acid erodes or eats away the tooth enamel, raising the risk of cavities and tooth decay.

Attracting Harmful Bacteria

Sugar in foods and drinks leaves a sticky residue on the teeth. White, processed sugar is particularly damaging as the residue is too strong to remove with saliva. Besides creating acids, sugar attracts harmful bacteria that can cause gum disease and other oral issues.

Gingivitis and periodontitis cause the gum to recede from the teeth. Destruction of the protective tissues leaves the teeth loose. Severe gum disease is a common cause of tooth loss.

How to Reduce Sugar Intake

Reducing your sugar intake can help protect your oral health. The ideal amount of sugar consumption depends on individual health needs. You can reduce your intake of harmful sugars by avoiding sodas, soft drinks, and fruit juice.

Eliminate or limit your consumption of sugary gum, candy, and canned fruits. It may also help to use natural sugar substitutes that do not have the same harmful effects. Avoid or reduce foods that cause mouth dryness as they can cause food to get stuck on the teeth easily.

Caring for Teeth After Sugar Consumption

It can be impossible to avoid all sugary foods and drinks, but there are helpful habits you can implement to reduce harm. Be careful when you consume the foods and what you do afterward. Brushing your teeth immediately after consumption can reduce the harmful effects.

Brushing your teeth can help prevent the accumulation of bacteria and acid on the tooth surface. Rinsing your mouth with water right after drinking sugary beverages can help. It can keep most of the sugar from adhering to the teeth.

Good oral hygiene that involves daily brushing and flossing is essential for reducing the effects of sugar on the teeth. It is also crucial to schedule regular dental visits for checkups and professional cleaning.

For more on the impact of sugary foods and drinks on oral health, visit Dr. Sam’s Premier Dentistry at our Sherman, Texas, office. Call 903-708-6400 to schedule an appointment today.