Does Sugar Cause Cavities?
While it is true that eating foods with sugar in them can lead to tooth decay, it’s not true that sugar causes tooth decay. Confused? That’s alright, it’s a little bit confusing. Everything you were taught about how cavities work is probably wrong. But we’re here to set you right.
To put it simply, yes sugar can cause cavities but it isn’t the only cause, nor is it the actual sugar that causes cavities. It is the processes by which your mouth processes the debris left over from sugars, and other foods, that cause the tooth decay that ultimately leads to cavities. So, while sugar is one of the causes, it’s not the sole cause. Cavities are easily caused, but they are equally as easy to prevent, so with a little extra caution you won’t need to worry about eating too much sugar.
How Are Cavities Caused?
Dental cavities are formed when the bacteria in your mouth digests the debris of carbohydrates left on your teeth. This carbohydrate debris can be caused by many different foods, and this includes foods containing artificial sugars, but it also includes foods such as whole grains and fruits. When the bacteria in your mouth digests the carbohydrates leftover from your food, the bacteria in your mouth combined with your saliva forms an acid that creates plaque, and it’s actually the plaque (not the sugar) that causes cavities to form.
If plaque builds up on the teeth for too long, then it causes the enamel on your teeth to break down, thus forming cavities. Cavities develop as little holes on the surface of your teeth, and are pretty nasty if left untreated by a dentist. After the enamel, the plaque will break through deeper layers of the teeth. First, they break through the soft layer under the enamel, then through to the pulp, which contains all of the blood vessels and nerves of your teeth.
It is best to get cavities treated before they break through to the pulp, as this can cause severe damage that will require even more extensive dental procedures to fix such as gum disease.
How to Prevent Cavities
It’s really easy to prevent cavities while still eating as much sugar as you want (within reason). The simplest way is to brush after every meal. If you brush your teeth after every meal, then you will rid your mouth of the debris that turns into plaque.
Flossing your teeth once a day also helps with the buildup of plaque that gets stuck in between your teeth throughout the course of the day. Mouth rinse and sugar free gum can also help to clear away the food debris that ultimately causes cavities. These methods, when paired with frequent visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups, will keep your teeth clean and healthy.
Sugars don’t really cause cavities, although they are part of the reason why cavities are formed. In reality, all sorts of foods cause the buildup of plaque that leads to tooth decay, and not just ones with sugar in them. This is why it’s crucial to brush and floss your teeth properly and frequently. Foods that easily get stuck in between your teeth, like cereal, are more likely to cause plaque buildup, and this is why it is important to pay attention to the types of food you are eating and how you treat your teeth after each meal.
At Del Mar Center for Advanced Dentistry, our dental practitioners make it their job to ensure that your teeth are as clean and healthy as possible. We work diligently to fight back against the plaque that causes tooth decay. Our services range between everything from basic cavity fillings to root canals, and our customers are consistently happy with the outcome of our services.