Sugar and Cavities

Sugar and Cavities

As most of us were told in childhood, eating too much candy causes cavities. Well, while it is not quite that simple, the general rule is that refined and processed sugars should be consumed in moderation. This rule is not only a good rule to follow in promoting whole body health, it is especially important when promoting good oral health.

Although all carbohydrates break down into a simple sugar such as fructose, sucrose, or lactose, at some point in the digestive process, refined and processed sugars are different. Refined and processed sugars are fermentable carbohydrates,Â which begin to break down while inside your mouth, and are easy targets for the bacteria that live there.

How do refined and processed sugars promote tooth decay? Well, invisible germs or bacteria are always at work inside your mouth. Sometimes, these bacteria form a sticky film on the surface of your teeth called plaque. When refined and processed sugars are consumed, plaque bacteria inside your mouth work with these sugars to produce acids.

Once these acids are created, they begin to eat away at your tooth enamel by dissolving the minerals inside the tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization, and helps contribute to the formation of dental cariesÂ or cavities,Â as they are commonly called. Likewise, there is also a process called remineralization, whereby the tooth enamel regains its strength. Saliva and fluoride help this process, and so do certain foods.

However, tooth decay begins when acids are depleting minerals faster than minerals are being renewed. Moreover, sticky foods that stay inside your mouth longer, such as potato chips and raisins, lead to higher acid production because the bacteria has an increased amount of time to work with the sugary foods. Additionally, midday snacking or consumption of sugary drinks throughout the day can increase your chances of tooth decay by providing the bacteria in your mouth a steady source of sugar with which to produce acids. Furthermore, if you are snacking on sugary treats midday, there is less chance that you are eating foods that help neutralize the acid production. This is why people who snack on sweets between meals experience more tooth decay than those who do not snack.

Categories: Oral Nutrition

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