“Eating sweets will rot your teeth” is a phrase you likely heard as a child. If you’re a parent, you may have even said it. In reality, the damage that too much sugar can do to teeth should make everyone listen to that sage advice.
What Does Sugar Do To Teeth?
Did you know your mouth is full of germs? Some are good for the inside of your mouth. Others... not so much. The harmful germs feed on the sugar and carbohydrates, also known as starches, that you eat; together, they create acids and trigger germs that can break down your teeth. This type of condition can do two things. First, it can destroy the enamel (shiny outer layer of your tooth). Next, if left untreated, the condition will turn into cavities. They go into the deeper layers of your tooth, creating a hole, causing pain and possible tooth loss.
Your teeth are always susceptible to cavity-making acids. However, this damage can be reversed by minerals. Minerals come from the enamel of your teeth and your saliva through a process called remineralisation. It generates minerals like calcium and phosphates, both of which are good for strengthening teeth. Fluoride is another mineral that comes into play and also helps repair your weakened enamel. It’s a great process, but it can only do so much. To keep your teeth healthy, you have to limit your sugar intake. That includes starches.
Cutting down on sugar is a good start. Here are some other ways to promote remineralisation and improve the enamel of your teeth. Stimulate your saliva flow by chewing sugarless gum and eating high-fibre veggies and fruits. It helps to bathe your teeth in minerals. Calcium and phosphates strengthen teeth, so keep dairy products in your diet. Green and black teas contain substances that help suppress harmful oral germs.
Finally, fluoride is a mineral that prevents tooth decay and reverses it in its early stages, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). This is why the Oral Hygienists Association of South Africa (OHASA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Your dentist can also administer professional fluoride treatments.
Ultimately, be mindful to limit your sugar intake, and teach your children to do the same. When you eat sugar, brush afterward with fluoride toothpaste, and make sure you also eat healthy foods that strengthen your teeth. Keep up with your regular dental appointments for good measure. Then, you can enjoy your sweet life, only with fewer cavities.