If your dentist has warned you about one thing, it’s probably sugar. It’s one of the most common warnings regarding oral health. People immediately associate sugar consumption with cavities, but can sugar actually cause tooth loss too?
Sugar Impacts the Entire Mouth
Sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay. Harmful oral bacteria love to feed on sugar, releasing an acidic byproduct when they do. It wears away the protective outer layer of our teeth called enamel. Over time, it eats its way through to other layers of the tooth, causing cavities and tooth decay.
A high-sugar diet can also increase your risk of gum disease. With sugar attracting more harmful bacteria, they produce inflammation and infection in the gum tissue. If your sugar consumption is extreme, it lowers your immune system, increasing the negative effects of those bacteria.
There are indirect dangers from sugar, too. Sugary foods and drinks aren’t giving your body the nutrients it needs. Nutrients like calcium, vitamins C and D, and phosphorus are all essential for oral health. When you don’t have these nutrients, your teeth and tissues are weaker.
Dental Damage Progresses to Tooth Loss
A high-sugar diet can cause tooth loss, particularly if coupled with poor oral hygiene. Sugar is especially harmful if you snack on sugary foods throughout the day. If you’re constantly snacking, bacteria feed the whole time. They produce byproducts, giving your teeth an acid bath throughout the day.
Bacteria and food debris build up if you’re not brushing regularly, forming a sticky film called plaque. If you continue to leave it, it hardens into tartar, a substance that’s difficult to remove. This traps bacteria and acid, keeping it close to the teeth.
Once this happens, it’s much easier for acid and decay to burrow through the layers of your teeth. Without treatment, the infection reaches the center of your tooth, the dental pulp. It eats away at your tooth structure. When it gets bad enough, we can’t salvage your tooth any longer and we’ll need to extract it.
Preventing Sugar Damage
The best way to avoid losing your teeth due to sugar is tooth decay prevention. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly removes food particles, bacteria, and plaque. Doing this reduces your chance of developing tooth decay. Regular dental checkups are also crucial. Their technology and expertise can catch tooth decay early.
Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet also helps. Sugar-free and low-sugar alternatives to things like soda and candy are better choices. When you do consume something sugary, drink water to rinse your mouth out afterward. It helps to rinse away bacteria and food particles. It also increases saliva production and neutralizes acids in your mouth.
Whenever you’re able to, brush your teeth after eating foods high in sugar. It further removes harmful bacteria from your smile. You should also ensure you eat a balanced diet that provides all of the nutrients to keep your smile healthy and strong.
If you worry about tooth loss and how sugar impacts tooth and gum health, call your dental professional today for a checkup.