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How Sugar Affects Your Teeth

Gumdrops and sugarplums. Cookies and candy. Hot chocolate and peppermint mocha. Now that we are in the holiday season, our plates and pockets are full of sugar and sweets. Although you shouldn’t avoid indulging in sweets, it is better to limit your sugar intake for the sake of your teeth. Sugar may taste delicious, but it can damage your teeth if you are not careful. 

woman reaching her hand into a colorful bowl of candy dentist in Timonium Maryland

Your Mouth Is An Environment

We may tend to think of our mouths as just an apparatus for food or smiles. However, our mouths are incredibly complex. Your teeth, jaw, gums, and tongue all work together to help you speak, smile, and eat. Additionally, even your teeth require each other to stay in place and healthy. Therefore, your mouth is an intricate system. 

Within this environment, your mouth houses many different types of good and bad bacteria. There is a delicate balance among these bacteria. Unfortunately, harmful bacteria can damage your teeth and gums if there is an imbalance. 

When you eat, your teeth and saliva break down the food into smaller pieces. So there will be leftover pieces of food in your mouth after you finish eating. The bacteria in your mouth will consume the sugar in the foods and sweets that you eat and drink. The sugar itself doesn’t create an issue with your teeth. Unfortunately, it is the reaction it makes with the bacteria in your mouth. When bacteria eat sugar, it forms an acid that can damage your enamel. 

This bacteria is called plaque. It is a sticky form of bacteria that clings to your teeth and other surfaces of your mouth. Without removal, plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease. 

Focus on Your Oral Hygiene Routine

One way that you can combat the damage from sugar is to focus on your oral hygiene routine. Dentists recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day to reduce the amount of plaque in your mouth. However, brushing alone is not enough to remove plaque sufficiently. 

Additionally, you should floss your teeth daily. Flossing allows you to remove plaque from between your teeth and underneath your gum line. This will help minimize plaque buildup, reducing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease

If you don’t remove plaque, you run the risk of it turning into tartar. Tartar is a calcified version of plaque. Unfortunately, you cannot remove tartar from your teeth at home. Instead, you must make an appointment to see a dental professional. They will be able to remove the plaque and tartar buildup during a professional dental cleaning. 

Minimize Your Sugar Intake

You shouldn’t avoid sugar altogether. That wouldn’t make the holidays very fun. However, you can minimize the amount of sugar that you eat. For example, you can always substitute some of your favorite treats with sugar-free versions. Additionally, you can look into recipes that have lower sugar amounts. 

You don’t have to cut out sugar entirely if you have a quality oral routine. But, it is good to be mindful.