April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. While oral cancer isn’t a topic that most people…
We’ve all heard that sugar is bad for your teeth, but the relationship may not be as straightforward as you might expect. Sugar doesn’t directly damage your teeth. Instead, sugar is a favorite food of certain bacteria that live in your mouth. When you eat a candy bar or drink a can of soda pop, these bacteria break down the sugar and release an acid that actually eats away your teeth and leads to cavities. While sugar gets a bad name, it only kicks off a whole chain of events in your mouth that leads to problems with your teeth.
Here’s how it works: Lots of different types of bacteria live in your mouth. It sounds a bit gross when we put it like that, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, some bacteria are beneficial and even necessary. Others, however, don’t belong there and can be harmful. The way we end up with a cavity is pretty simple, really: Certain harmful bacteria consume the sugar we eat and release acid, which damages tooth enamel and can eventually lead to tooth decay and cavities. Your Overland Park dentist then treats those cavities because, if they aren’t filled or otherwise taken care of, they can cause greater damage and even tooth loss.
Who is most at risk? When you get right down to it, the answer is everyone. But children and adolescents are at even higher risk than adults, in part because they’re more likely to consume the kinds of sugary beverages and snacks that these cavity-causing bacteria love, and in part because they’re also more likely to neglect the proper dental care routines that can help fight cavities. Let’s be honest, though. Even as adults, we still do both of those things: eat sugary snacks and skip our daily dental care routines, even though we know better.
Here’s a good reason to be more vigilant, though: Sugar is also bad for your general health. Sure, we just said that sugar has a direct connection to tooth decay and gum disease, and that’s true. But you also already knew that. Here’s something you may not know: Excessive sugar consumption increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and places you at higher risk for heart disease and even cancer. Even if you dodge those health concerns, there’s the simple fact that sugar causes your blood glucose to spike and fall, which can leave you feeling wiped out. We’ve all experienced a sugar crash or two, after all.
It’s also worth remembering that processed, refined sugars like those found in candy and soda aren’t the only culprits, either. Everything from honey to fruit contains lots of sugar, too. While you don’t necessarily want to skip out on the fresh fruit, be aware of how much sugar you’re ingesting each day. Remember to drink plenty of water when you eat to promote salivation and keep yourself hydrated. And, of course, brush twice a day and after meals whenever possible, and floss at least once a day.
While we’re on the subject, you shouldn’t neglect regular visits to your Overland Park dentist, either! To schedule your next appointment, just call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 today!