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The impact of sugar on our teeth.

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Home  /  Implants - Dental News  /  The impact of sugar on our teeth.

Every dentist worth his salt will tell you that sugar is one of the biggest enemies when it comes to good dental health. Which is why you should be extra careful with Easter fast approaching.

If you’ve been to your local supermarket recently, you’ll have noticed that the shelves are groaning under the weight of Easter eggs. For children, Easter is a time when the normal consumption of sugary foods goes through the roof with the addition of those eggs – and usually including a bar or other confectionery item inside them.

And let’s be honest, we adults tend to indulge at Easter as well. We may not buy an Easter egg for ourselves, but we probably tend to do our share of ‘grazing’ when we see them around the house and ‘unprotected’.

So what’s the big deal about sugar, you may ask, and surely it can’t be as bad as they’d have us believe?

Sugar of itself is not the big danger

You’re partly right if you take this view. Because sugar of itself is not the big danger to your teeth – it’s acid. However, the two are intrinsically linked, so extra sugar means extra acid – and extra damage to your teeth.

In essence, sugar causes bacteria in your mouth to produce the acid that will, over time, cause havoc with your teeth. And this vicious circle is facilitated by that evil predator – plaque.

Plaque can be described as a sticky film of bacteria that looks to cover the surface of your your teeth and gums.  It’s always looking to flourish, which is why it’s so important to interrupt its progress at regular intervals by brushing your teeth.

Every time that plaque meets up with sugar, acid is produced. This acid is capable of attacking the teeth for about twenty minutes. Obviously, if it does this often enough, the acid will wear a small hole into the enamel – and eventually an even bigger hole, leading to cavities and fillings.

A vicious circle is formed

When the initial small hole in the enamel can’t be reached by your brushing or flossing, even more bacteria can hide out here, waiting to come in contact with sugar when they can produce even more acid. You get the picture, right?

And it gets worse. If a small hole grows large enough to be termed a cavity, the untreated cavity can continue to decay until the decay eventually reaches the nerve – leaving you with a more serious problem to deal with, and potentially meaning that you’re in line for a root canal.

If this all sounds a bit negative, there’s some good news for you. This good news is that you don’t have to cut sugar out of your diet completely. Here are some alternative strategies:

  • Pay attention to the length of time that sugar has to act on your teeth, For example, eating a piece of chocolate for five or ten minutes is much better for you than sipping on a sugary drink for hours on end.
  • Your next trick is to look out for foods and drinks that contain added – and perhaps hidden sugars. You should ration these very tightly – and be particularly wary of soft drinks that have added sugar. They can account for an enormous amount of sugar coming in contact with you teeth – and for a prolonged period of time.
  • If you must snack, then go for foods that are lower in sugar. This could include anything from crunchy vegetables to fruits. These also help to stimulate production of saliva, which help wash away the food and form a defence against acid. Nuts are another good alternative to sugary snacks.
  • Except as a special treat, avoid biscuits, sweets, cakes and fruit juices – which are surprisingly high in sugar.
  • Make sure you visit your dentist regularly to keep your level of plaque under control. Prevention is very definitely better than cure.

If you take these simple steps, it’s very much on the cards that you can stave off expensive dental treatments like teeth implants, root canals, crowns etc.

And let’s face it – wouldn’t you rather put that tooth implant cost towards something that you really wanted – like a weekend away or a new outfit?

So get serious about your sugar content – and do your teeth a favour. They’ll thank you for it for the rest of your life!