The modern American diet is rife with sugar – especially when it comes to some of our country’s favorite beverages. Items like soda, mixed alcoholic drinks, sweetened coffees and teas, and even fruit juice contain enough sugar to harm your oral health.
Sugar is dangerous to our teeth because it is bacteria’s natural source of food. When we have sugar particles in our mouths, bacteria thrive – including bacteria that contribute to tooth decay. Reducing sugar intake helps reduce the incidence of tooth decay by starving oral bacteria. This is why a dentist will recommend that patients reduce or eliminate sugar from their diets whenever possible.
Oral Bacteria, Sugar, and You
The mouth is a hospitable environment for benign and harmful strains of bacteria because it is warm and wet. When we consume sugar, we feed harmful bacteria. Feeding bacteria is unwise since bacteria form acid as a by-product after consuming sugar particles. The acid that follows bacteria consuming sugar temporarily softens tooth enamel.
If tooth enamel has already been damaged by previous and consistent exposure to acid, cavity-causing bacteria can eat through the structure of teeth exposed under damaged enamel. Consuming sugar with damaged enamel will only increase the likelihood that a person might develop dental caries (cavities).
In addition to feeding oral bacteria, excessive sugar consumption negatively affects the mouth’s pH levels. If a person develops pH imbalances, he or she might develop increased risks for periodontal disease and infections such as thrush.
Alternatives to Sugary Drinks
Since dental health professionals recommend abstaining from sugary beverages, it is important to know what drinks are healthy to consume. Unsweetened drinks can be healthy as long as they are not too acidic. For example, while low calorie lemonade might have a lower sugar content than other varieties, it is still very acidic. Water infused with real fruit and herbs can be a healthier alternative to processed fruit juices and sodas.
If you need caffeine, consider drinking unsweetened hot or iced coffee. Spices like pure cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder can help enhance the flavor of these drinks if going without sugar seems daunting.
Even though reducing sugar consumption is helpful, patients still need to perform proper oral hygiene and visit the dentist for routine checkups and cleanings. Call us today at Aesthetic Dental Partners to reserve an appointment.