Sugar is a tasty substance that sweetens food. It makes ice cream, cakes, tea, coffee, pap, custard and any beverage it is added to taste nice and delicious. Unfortunately, sugar is also the culprit responsible for most cavities and tooth decay.
However, sugar comes in various forms and it can damage the teeth no matter what form it is taken. Whether taken solely or in food like; snacks, juice, biscuit, sugary gum, and soda, all are equally harmful to the teeth.
Harm sugar does to the teeth
It is significant to affirm that sugar itself does not result in instant tooth decay upon contact with the teeth. However, sugar get converted to acid by the activities of oral bacteria, the acid produced sets off the process of tooth decay.
Furthermore, the mouth is the filthiest part of the body in that it contains myriads of bacteria. These buds (bacteria) feed on sugar and pass out acid as a byproduct. It is the acid produced by the bacteria from the consumption of sugar that are the actual culprit in tooth decay.
Moreso, the campaign to lessen the quantity of sugar eaten is a bid to put the bacteria on diet by mitigating acid production. Keep in mind that sticky sugary food like chocolate has an elevated propensity to induce tooth decay because they stick around for longer on the teeth.
Tooth natural defence
The smoothness of the enamel impedes sugar from sticky to it and the presence of saliva helps to dilute and neutralise bacteria acid hence reducing tooth decay incidence.
Nevertheless, the body also helps to overturn the damage done to the teeth by restoring minerals and the important layer of protective enamel. Having said that, if you snack all day, allowing the bacteria to feast all the time, it’s difficult for the enamel to keep up. The outcome? Cavities! Once the enamel is worn away from a part of the tooth, decay beginnings to set in, and a small hole forms.
In severe cases, a large cavity can degenerate to the degree that a root canal, crown or tooth extraction procedure may be essential to fix the damage. These types of procedures are typically a lot more expensive than a simple filling. That’s why it is often best to detect tooth decay as early on as possible.
Sugar triggered toothache
If adults or children are feeling pain when consuming sweets, this indicates the necessity to visit a dentist. Toothache from eating sugar can be from various reasons:
- Loss of enamel: When the outward layer of the teeth, the enamel, is breached or starting to erode, sugar, hot, and cold liquids can induce pain.
- Cavities: Eating sugar can provoke existing and forming cavities in the mouth to ache. Having the cavity filled will stave off this type of pain.
- Tooth damage: If the teeth have been damaged from an accident or crunching, the missing enamel can inflict pain when eating sugary foods.
- Tooth Whitening: While transient, whitening your teeth can make them sensitive to sugar.
- Gum Disease: If the gums are not healthy, your teeth won’t be either. Gingivitis and periodontitis can cause sensitivities to sugary foods.
- Dentin Hypersensitivity: This is a dental condition that makes teeth sensitive. Certain tastes, like sugar, can create sharp pain or extreme discomfort while eating.
Children and sugar
The effect of sugar on children’s teeth is more dramatic because milk teeth are more susceptible to decay. But parents need to appreciate that too much sugar is particularly bad for children’s teeth. This is a difficult thing to deal with since kids are normally the ones that love sweets the most. However, keep in mind the following when it comes to children;
- Children often don’t brush their teeth very well. Children eat twice as many sweets as adults and brush their teeth half as well, the result is a recipe for cavities. Children may be at double the risk of incurring cavities simply because of their daily habits.
- Children’s teeth are less protected against bacteria because baby teeth have much thinner enamel than adult teeth.
- Milk teeth have bigger pulp chambers than adult teeth relatively. So the progress of tooth decay in milk teeth is faster.
- Late presentation, children only complain when they have pain.
Prevention of tooth damage from sugar
In talking about preventing the teeth from the onslaught of sugar, there are things to avoid and others to do. The things to do are;
- Brush the teeth twice daily, the last thing before going to bed and after a meal in the morning.
- Use fluoride-containing toothpaste, to restore minerals lost due to the presence of acid produced by bacteria from sugar.
- Floss the teeth once daily, to remove plaque and food debris from between the teeth.
- Use interdental brushes, to brush between the teeth.
- Go for a regular dental check-up.
- Assist children before the age of 8 years to brush their teeth.
- Use mouthwash once in a while.
- Drink water or rinse the mouth with water after snacking.
The following are to be avoided;
- Brushing the teeth immediately after snacking, erodes the protective layer of the teeth.
- Preferring sugar drinks to water for hydration.
- Late-night snacking.
- Prolonged use of feeding bottles for children.
- Kissing children in the mouth.
The habit of brushing immediately after a sugary meal to diminish the amount of sugar in the mouth is far more detrimental to the teeth, it should be deterred. Brush only twice daily then rinse the mouth after food is highly advised.