Trick or Treat: How Sugar Affects Your Teeth
Happy Halloween! This is the time of year when candy and treats abound. Is sugar bad for your teeth? Yes, but you can still enjoy your favorite holiday sweets and take good care of your dental health. At Sunrise Dental in Glendale, we always encourage our patients to brush their teeth about 30 minutes after eating candy or sugary treats. Read on to learn more about how sugar affects your teeth and what you can do to protect your oral health.
Is sugar bad for your teeth?
It’s a well known fact that sugary treats cause tooth decay. However, sugar doesn’t cause cavities all on its own. Cavities start when sugar feeds the bacteria that produce plaque. Cavity-causing bacteria love to eat sugar—it’s their favorite food. The more sugar that bacteria can eat, the more they will thrive.
As they grow, the bad bacteria build colonies of sticky plaque that cement themselves onto your teeth. Plaque causes cavities by producing acids that damage your tooth enamel. Acid attacks from plaque cause the lesions that eventually grow into cavities. After enjoying candy or a sugary treat, brush your teeth about 30 minutes later.
What should I do after eating sugary candy?
If you don’t have a toothbrush handy, drink some water! Plaque can’t build up in a clean, hydrated mouth. A simple glass of water can wash away residue that might cause stains, reduce the bacteria that cause bad breath, and protect your tooth enamel. The more water you drink, the brighter you’ll be smiling.
When you want a tooth-friendly sweet treat, reach for an apple. Eating a fresh, juicy apple is almost as beneficial as brushing your teeth! Apples have high water content that helps wash away food debris, and their high fiber content stimulates your gums. Caramel-dipped apples don’t count!
What about sugar-free treats?
Treats made with alternative sweeteners like xylitol won’t damage your teeth like sugar. The bacteria responsible for causing dental plaque and acidic saliva are unable to digest xylitol. Without sugars to eat, bacteria populations can’t grow. Xylitol also prevents bacteria from sticking to teeth and forming plaque. Just make sure to keep treats with xylitol away from pets—it’s safe for humans, but toxic to cats and dogs.
Wondering if sugar has damaged your teeth? Make an appointment at Sunrise Dental today! Our friendly dentists have proudly served Peoria, Arizona and the surrounding communities of Surprise, Phoenix, and Glendale for over thirty years. We look forward to giving you a reason to smile!
Photo by Beth Teutschmann on Unsplash