Every time you are drinking or eating sugary foods, you are exposing your teeth under acid attack for up to one hour. That is due to the sugar reacting with the bacteria present in plaque, producing harmful acid.
Aside from sugar foods, acidic foods and drinks can also be as harmful. Acid dissolves or erodes the tooth enamel, revealing the dentine or the inner layer of the tooth. This causes tooth sensitivity and can be unsightly to look at.
What is Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is a damage to the teeth that leads to fillings or worse, extraction. It occurs when sugar reacts to the bacteria in plaque and forms the acid that destroys the protective layer of the teeth. When this happens, the enamel could break down, creating a cavity or hole into the dentine.
What are the foods that can cause tooth decay?
Any sugary foods can cause tooth decay. And sugar comes in different forms. Ingredients that end in ‘ose’ are all sugars – e.g. fructose, glucose and sucrose. These sugars are potentially harm your teeth.
Most processed foods contain sugar and the higher it is listed in the ingredients list, the more sugar the product contains. Make sure you read the label when shopping for food.
Moreover, when reading product labels, take note that the tag ‘no added sugar’ doesn’t mean that the product contain zero sugar. It only means that no additional sugar has been added. Hence, these products may still contain sugar like those listed above. Sugar may also be listed as ‘carbohydrates. Be sure to ask your pediatric dentist if you are unsure.
How do sugars harm your teeth?
Our mouth is home to different bacteria and some of them form a sticky substance called plaque on your teeth’s surface. Bacteria on the plaque loves gobbling up the sweet stuff and convert it to acid. The acids are strong enough to melt the hard enamel covering your teeth. That is how cavities starts to form.
It is best to limit sugar intake to reduce acid production of bacteria that dissolves enamel.
Snacking Tips to Help Prevent Tooth Decay
Before you start nibbling on a snack, check your options. Is it packed with sugar? If so, then think again; maybe there are some other that are good for your teeth. Keep in mind that some types of sweets can be more damaging than others.
For instance, chewy or gooey sweets takes a lot more time to break down and they can even stick to your teeth. Sticky snacks remains in your mouth longer than those that can easily be chewed and swallowed.
Consider your frequency of snacking. Do you munch on sugary treats several times a day, or do you limit yourself with just a dessert after dinner?
Every time you eat sugar, damaging acids are produced in your mouth. This acid continues to damage your teeth for 20 minutes before they start to be neutralized. Hence, the more you eat sugary snacks, the more you’re feeding the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
If you want to eat sweets, it is better if you eat them after a main meal instead of nibbling all throughout the day. When eating sweets or any meal, be sure to brush your teeth with a fluoride-enriched toothpaste.