Sugary foods such as lollipops, sticky candies, toffies and hard candies are all bad for your teeth.
Sugars are present in packaged foods, fruits, juices, sodas, coffee and several other products.
You need to control your daily sugar intake in order to limit how sugars affect your oral and physical health.
While orally, they can cause cavities and decay, physically they can cause Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and kidney problems.
Hence, you should cut back on sugars to prevent oral health problems.
This article discusses what are Sugary foods and how they can damage your oral health.
Keep reading to learn about limiting its intake in what you eat and drink!
Forms of Sugar
It is hard to filter our sugars when you are out shopping.
This is because sugars are of different types, names and forms.
Honey is sugar and so is maple syrup.
Corn syrup, Fructose, granulated sugar, maltose, dextrose and molasses are all sugars.
Manufacturers use these chemical names to hide that it is basically sugar content.
Hence, it is difficult for you to understand that whether these ingredients are some other chemical or sugars.
Other names for sugars in packaged products are:
- fruit juice concentrate
- carob powder
- high fructose corn syrup
- evaporated cane juice
Look out for all these hidden sugars in your chips, biscuits and other products.
Even if these sugars have a different form, they can easily cause oral health problems like simple sugars.
In fact not only these but also starchy foods and carbohydrates can metabolize into sugars to potentially harm your teeth and gums.
Even if you follow good oral hygiene you are at risk of developing cavities and tooth decay because of what you consume.
Sugars are the biggest culprit when it comes to causing decay.
Besides children, around 96 percent of adults also have cavities.
All these different forms of sugars contribute equally to harming your dental health.
Want to know how? Let’s find out below!
How Sugary Foods Harm Oral Health
Your mouth has several bacteria.
Some are good bacteria that help maintain the pH and good flora inside your mouth.
Whereas others are the bad bacteria that feed on sugars and decay your teeth eventually.
These harmful bacteria settle into the grooves and pits of your teeth.
When the bacteria come in contact with sugars they metabolize them producing acids.
These acids land directly onto your tooth’s surface.
The tooth’s surface consists of enamel which is made up of minerals.
The acids demineralize the enamel by removing the minerals such as calcium and phosphate ions.
As a result, the enamel starts to erode when constantly acids land on its surface.
Once enamel erosion occurs the bacteria can freely enter the tooth’s inner structure.
As the decay starts and the erosion keeps happening a hole forms inside the tooth.
A cavity is a hole that forms because bacteria keep digesting sugars to produce acids.
If you do not treat the cavity in time then the decay will spread to other teeth as well.
You can treat it by getting tooth fillings.
Initially, the saliva can repair the mineral loss.
It contains the calcium and phosphate ions that can remineralize your enamel.
However, if your teeth repeatedly come in contact with the sugars then they are at risk of enamel erosion.
If this continues and you do not treat the cavities in time then you may lose the entire tooth structure resulting in tooth loss.
If children lose a tooth then it interrupts the permanent tooth eruption.
As a result, their teeth are rather crooked, crowded and misaligned.
Your doctor will insert a space maintainer to ensure that their teeth erupt properly.
Sugary Foods Lower the pH of the Mouth
Two main harmful bacteria are Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sorbrinus.
Sugars attract these harmful bacteria inside your mouth.
When people eat the sugars, these bacteria metabolize them, release acids and form a sticky layer of plaque inside your teeth.
Plaque on teeth can harden to become tartar.
You can clean it through brushing and flossing but if it turns to tartar then there is a risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss.
Moreover, if you do not remove the plaque then the pH of the mouth decreases.
As the pH of the plaque lowers from 5.5 it makes the nevironment of the mouth acidic.
As a result, the acidic environment starts dissolving the minerals and eroding the enamel.
Decay will begin as the bacteria get access inside the tooth’s structure.
Furthermore, it will result in the formation of cavities gradually.
Hence, sugars can harm your teeth over time gradually.
Though this damage is preventable.
All you need to do is to control your daily sugar intake and maintain good oral hygiene.
More on that later but first let’s find out what you should avoid eating to control sugars from attacking your teeth.
Bad Sugary Foods and Habits
While all sugars are not great for your teeth, there are foods that are especially bad.
For instance, chocolates are not as bad because they do not stay in contact with your teeth for a long time.
The longer the sugars stay in contact with your teeth, the greater damage they can cause.
Sucking on a lollipop is way more harmful.
The sugars stay in contact with your teeth causing bacteria to constantly feed on them.
As a result, the longer you suck on a lollipop, the greater the harm by the bacteria.
Similarly, hard and chewy candies are bad for your oral health and so is sugary chewing gum.
Chewy toffies can stay stuck on your teeth.
If the saliva and your tongue cannot move it out from the teeth then the bacteria will start feeding on them.
Furthermore, the sugar releases slowly hence the process of demineralization continues for a long time.
While you keep chewing gum for a long time giving the bacteria a chance to feed on the sugars for all that time.
Furthermore, there are drinks.
From fruit juices to sports beverages.
Carbonated sodas to sweetened coffees, all contain sugars.
Though they stay in contact with your teeth for a short while, they do contain a lot of sugar content to cause enough damage.
Sodas and sports drinks probably contain the highest amount of sugars but they also contain acids that erode the enamel even fastly.
Also, you should not hold them in your mouth for too long.
Neither should you sip them too often as that exposes them to the teeth.
Drinking only one sugary drink can increase your chances of losing 1 to 5 teeth by 44 percent.
Furthermore, constantly snacking of sugar candies, toffies and even starchy chips, bread and biscuits can cause damage to your teeth.
Instead snack on healthy fruits instead.
Fruit juices are more sugary than fruits themselves.
This is why instead of drinking fruit juices you can take fruits as snacks.
Hence, these foods and drinks will cause your teeth to develop plaque, become yellow and soon form decay and cavities.
What you can do is to limit them or completely avoid them to control your daily sugar intake.
Also, take care of your oral hygiene and protect your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly to remineralize your teeth.
Preventing Harm From Sugars
You do not need to completely cut down on sugars rather limiting them can protect you from greater damage.
Your sugar intake should be 10 percent or less than your daily calories i.e. 30 grams of sugar.
When you go out to buy food check the labels and ingredient list to see the presence of all forms of sugars including processed foods.
Also beware of naturally occurring sugars found in dairy products and other foods as natural sugars aren’t great for your oral health.
Furthermore, do not snack on sugar or starch products rather take fruits instead.
Buy sugar-free chewing gum, stay away from ice cream and dried fruits to lose weight and maintain good oral health.
If you want to take a sugary snack, do so with your meal.
During meal time your saliva is already filtering out the bacteria and removing food debris.
So eating sugars at this time can limit their impact on teeth.
Drink Sodas or Juices with a Straw
The same goes for drinks, take them during mealtime rather than drinking them separately.
Moreover, drinking using straws helps to limit contact with teeth.
When there is little exposure to sugars with the teeth then it prevents decay and cavities.
Rather, the soft drinks go directly down your esophagus.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
There will always be some form of food debris stuck inside your teeth.
Similarly, you can limit the harmful bacteria but not eliminate them.
As a result, plaque will also accumulate on your teeth.
However, you can reduce the amount of plaque on teeth by brushing and flossing properly.
These help to reduce your chances of developing decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease and even tooth loss.
Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste so that your teeth can remineralize.
Moreover, floss once so that you remove plaque from interdental spaces.
You should be well aware of the harm of sugary foods now.
Even if you have a sweet tooth, do not overconsume them.
Limit their intake so that you can enjoy all sorts of foods with your teeth longer.