It’s common knowledge that excess sugar can cause tooth decay. However, most people don’t know much about the tooth decay process and how it actually works. It’s technically not the sugar that directly causes the tooth decay, but instead the body’s reaction to the sugar. Here’s what you should know about sugar — and why it’s your teeth’s worst enemy.
The Way That Cavities Grow
Your mouth contains tons of naturally occurring bacteria — and many of these bacteria are good for you! However, the harmful bacteria — which are bad enough on their own — happen to love sugar. After consuming sugar, the bad bacteria get even worse by producing damaging acids that attack your tooth enamel. Those acids cause bacterial infections that create a hole in the teeth — more commonly known as a cavity. When cavities aren’t treated, they can move through the enamel and into the middle of the tooth. This can cause so much damage that tooth extraction may eventually be necessary.
How Your Teeth Defend Themselves From Sugar
While damaging acids are always trying to attack and cause cavities in your teeth, the good news is that your teeth are able to defend themselves — at least to some degree. While the acids pull valuable minerals from your tooth enamel, your body has a natural re-mineralization process to combat it.
Your saliva has all the minerals that are crucial to re-mineralization, so your body’s always attempting to fight off the effects of sugar through your saliva. Another way to combat the damaging acids is fluoride. It combines with the saliva to keep your teeth as healthy and acid-free as possible. However, even with your saliva’s beneficial properties and the help of a quality fluoride toothpaste, sugar can still be damaging for your teeth.
How Can You Minimize the Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth?
The best way to minimize the effects of sugar on your teeth is to minimize the sugar itself. This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid sugar completely — but you do have to be smart about your intake. If you’re a parent, you’ve got the chance to teach your kids how sugar can impact healthy teeth. Teach your kids that occasional treats are fine — but that nobody needs a diet that includes lots of sugar on a daily basis.
In some cases, young children may benefit from a fluoride treatment that coats the teeth. The back teeth, for example the molars, are especially easily damaged by sugar since it’s less likely that kids do a proper brushing and flossing job on those harder to reach teeth. Therefore, fluoride treatments can be particularly useful for the back teeth in young patients.
Before You Have Any Type of Orthodontic Treatment
Before you have any type of orthodontic treatment, it’s very important that your teeth are as healthy as possible. This means minimizing sugar, taking care of any current tooth decay, and practicing good oral hygiene every day.
Any orthodontic treatment will involve metal or plastic on or close to the teeth, and this can make it even easier for sugar to get trapped and cause serious damage. For this reason, it’s very important that you discuss proper care of your braces, aligners, retainer, or other orthodontic device with Dr. Valderrama. As long as you practice good oral hygiene, you’ll be able to get the most from your orthodontic treatment.
Need an Experienced Orthodontist in Melbourne?
Valderrama Orthodontics is a highly respected local orthodontic practice serving patients in the Melbourne, Florida area. We offer care for patients from early childhood through geriatric years. At Valderrama Orthodontics, we want you to feel like a valued part of our family. We offer support for moms, dads, kids, and every member of the family — we even have an After School Program to make it easier to get your kids to the dentist!
Dr. Valderrama and the entire Valderrama Orthodontics team are happy to be your Melbourne orthodontist. Please call us anytime at (321)544-4127 to arrange an appointment!