The Sugar-Decay Issue: What To Know

Posted on: 30 October 2019

Many people love sweet treats but most have been warned against sugar from an early age. Sugar, among other things, was thought to cause tooth decay. To find out more about the sugar-decay connection, read on to find the real answers.

How Do Cavities Happen?

To get to the bottom of this issue, it's helpful to understand how cavities form. In short, cavities are formed when bacteria are allowed to enter spaces in the gums or the tooth. Gum diseases, cracks, and breakage can all provide the opportunity for the germs always present in the mouth to set up shop. Bacteria that are left to sit on the surface of teeth and gums can turn into a sticky substance that is more challenging to remove. While brushing and flossing will remove a great deal of bacteria from the surface of the teeth, plaque has to be dealt with using special dental instruments wielded by your dental hygienist. Once the plaque invades the openings, tooth decay follows. While not all levels of decay are noticeable, once the decay affects the roots of the tooth, you will definitely know about it.

Sweet Things and Cavities

While sugar has a bad reputation on many fronts, it's not the sugar itself that leads directly to decay. Sugar contains no ingredients that break down tooth enamel — and neither do any other foods in particular. Instead, it's any and all food and drink that can cause cavities. It's actually your own digestive functions that turn the foods you consume into cavity-makers and this occurs as a result of your own saliva. Digestive fluids like saliva begin to break down food in your mouth and, unfortunately, that same process can affect your teeth. So, sugar does — in a way — cause cavities but so do all other forms of food and drink. That being said, sugar may not be healthy for you in many other ways.

Catch Cavities Early

Regular visits to the dentist can catch some issues before you even feel any discomfort. Tiny cracks, openings, and damaged fillings can be detected early using modern imaging techniques in the dentist's office. What that means for you is that restorations can be made before the damage has progressed to the point that the tooth will be lost or a root canal is needed to preserve what's left of it. Sugar may not be the bad actor in tooth decay you've been led to believe but it underscores the need to remove all forms of bacteria from the mouth as soon as possible. To find out more, talk to your dentist.