The Impact of Sugar on Your Teeth

Why sugars (and carbohydrates) can have a negative impact on oral health – a Sutton Coldfield dental hygienist explains more.

It is commonly accepted that sugar is bad for your teeth, causing decay and eventually leading to dental work. What is less well understood though is how this actually happens. It should also be noted here that when we refer to ‘sugar’ we do not mean simply those found in sweets, but in many natural products; the sugar in apples being a good example.

Although the following information will hopefully enable you to avoid many of the problems that sugar causes, we also understand that, in the real world, sugars can be very difficult to avoid. This is especially for children and therefore, we recommend that, as well as following a good cleaning regime, you keep regular appointments at our family dental clinic in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham.

Why does sugar damage teeth?

When foods or drinks that contain sugar (even natural ones) are consumed, the body converts this into energy and it is this process which then produces the acid that is capable of eroding the enamel of the teeth.

From consumption to the production of acid only takes around twenty minutes, after which time, your teeth are under threat of damage. All is not lost though and a simple rinse of the mouth with water within twenty minutes will significantly, although not entirely, reduce the risk of the erosion process commencing. If you are at home, brushing your teeth shortly after eating will further help to prevent this process occurring. If at a restaurant though, this may not be possible and swilling the mouth with water and swallowing will help to remove the sugars from your teeth.

Carbohydrates and dental decay

Whilst most of our patients at Arthur House Dental Care fully accept that sweets etc are bad for the teeth, many are surprised when we mention that carbohydrates also produce sugars that can damage the teeth. Whilst we certainly are not suggesting that patients avoid carbohydrates as these play an essential part in a healthy diet, it is useful to be aware of the issues surrounding dental health that they can contribute to. Foods such as pasta, potatoes, rice and fruits offer healthy dietary options but also, when consumed will produce sugars and consequently the acid that erodes the teeth, leading to cavities.

As with any ‘obvious’ sugars such as those found in sweets or desserts, these sugars should also be removed from the teeth as quickly as possible. If you find yourself regularly in situations where it is difficult to clean your teeth or swill the mouth with water afterwards, you may find it useful to carry some sugar free gum with you as this will also help to remove the sugars. You will need to choose carefully though as some gums contain artificial sugars which may also damage the teeth so do try to find one that is entirely sugar free if possible.

Energy drinks

Where as, once upon a time, those involved in sports or exercise consumed water to rehydrate, many now turn to sports drinks or fruit juices to quench their thirst. Along with other dentists; at our Birmingham dental practice, we have noticed a significant increase in the number of patients with cavities who have been using these products. The fact that some of these drinks are carbonated also increases the speed of the process.

Fruit drinks for children, even if entirely natural, also contain high sugar levels and should be avoided as much as possible. Fruit drinks should perhaps be given as a treat rather than as the norm, replacing them with water as much as possible.

We hope that the above information and tips help to keep your teeth cavity free. To help to ensure that this is the case and that any work that may need doing is done at an early stage and is therefore less invasive, please ensure that you make regular oral hygiene visits to our dental practice in Sutton Coldfield on a regular basis.

Appointments can be made by calling us on 0121 323 4492.