Does Sugar Cause Cavities? What You Need to Know about Dental Decay
Sugar has long been identified as the culprit behind dental decay.
Does sugar really cause cavities? Yes, it can. However, it is not the only contributing factor that leads to decay.
Today, you will learn about the link between sugar and cavities, as well as steps you can take to reduce your need for dental fillings in Cerritos.
Does Sugar Cause Cavities? The Link Between Sugar, Bacteria, and Dental Decay
There is a definite link between sugar and cavities.
The bacteria in your mouth feeds on sugars, whether you eat simple sugars (candy, soda, chips) or complex carbohydrates (bread, pasta, potatoes, corn).
When the bacteria feed on the sugars, it releases acid. The acid slowly eats away at the enamel, thereby causing a cavity. In the meantime, plaque builds up on your teeth – doing so at record speeds after you eat something sweet. Bacteria live in the plaque. If it is not removed, the plaque and bacteria will start to demineralize the teeth, making them weaker and more susceptible to decay.
Other Contributing Factors
Is this to say that if you never ate a carbohydrate again that you would be free from cavities forever? Not necessarily. Other factors can make you more prone to dental decay, including:
- Genetics: If you are concerned about your general health, you probably know your family history for things like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Some people are predisposed to certain conditions. Similarly, some patients are more prone to dental decay or periodontal disease. It depends on your genes, as well as the type and number of bacteria in your body.
- Dry mouth: As we get older, our mucus membranes do not produce like they used to. When this happens, your mouth will start to feel dry. In severe cases, your soft tissues – particularly your lips and tongue – can develop deep lines and even start to crack. Saliva is the body’s natural barrier against outside influences (like sugar). When that is limited, there is nothing to protect the teeth, thereby making them more susceptible to dental decay.
- Medications: Certain drugs can cause slower saliva flow, including asthma inhalers, antihistamines, antidepressants, some blood pressure medications, and more.
Do You Need to Cut Out All Sugary Foods?
Low-carb diets have been the rage since Dr. Atkins first emerged on the scene in the 1960s. While there may be some weight loss benefits for this type of diet, it is not always the healthiest option, especially when people go overboard with it.
Your body needs carbohydrates. The idea of severely limiting all carbohydrates is not only boring, but it can also be dangerous. Carbohydrates are the brain’s source of nutrition. They also fuel the heart, central nervous system, and kidneys. The fiber in carbohydrates help you feel full and keep cholesterol levels in check.
Failing to provide your body with the carbohydrates it needs can result in:
- Bad breath (due to ketosis)
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Muscle loss
- Low blood sugar levels
Whether you are worried about your weight or preventing cavities, cutting out carbs is not the way to do it.
Focus on Cutting Out or Reducing Simple Carbohydrates
While complex carbohydrates convert to sugar, it does so more slowly than simple sugars. Not only do the healthy carbs keep your weight, energy, and blood sugar levels balanced, they do not contribute to decay as much as sweet, sugary processed foods.
Does this mean you do not have to brush and floss after eating these foods? Absolutely not. They will still convert to sugar over time, thereby increasing your risk of dental decay.
For the most part, you will want to reduce your risk of simple carbohydrates, foods that contain a lot of added sugars. These include:
- Sweetened coffee or tea
- Ice cream
- Sweet syrups (maple, high fructose corn syrup, etc.)
- Sugar (white and brown)
- Sports drinks
- Sweet cereals
Are these foods strictly off limits? No. Moderation is fine. However, you will want to limit how much of these foods you eat and how often you consume them. Additionally, it is best to brush your teeth within 20 minutes of eating them. If you consume a lot of these foods, the “brush twice a day” rule is probably not going to be enough to prevent dental decay.
What About Healthy Sweet Snacks?
Fresh fruit and dried fruit can be healthy snacks. They, too, contain sugar, so it is best to enjoy them in moderation and brush as soon as possible.
A note about dried fruit: In addition to containing sugar, dried fruit is very sticky. It gets stuck in the nooks of the teeth and is not always easy to remove. Make sure you brush the biting surfaces of your teeth\ especially well after eating sticky, sweet foods.
Dental Fillings in Cerritos: How Does It Work?
When you are diagnosed with cavities, you will need to take care of them with dental fillings in Cerritos.
At your filling appointment, your dentist will begin by numbing the gum tissue around the tooth, as well as the tooth itself.
Once you are completely numb, they will use a laser, handpiece, or hand instruments to remove the dental decay. They will make sure they have removed all the decay before proceeding.
After the decay is out, your dentist will place a conditioner on the tooth (called etchant) to prepare it for the bonding process. After a certain amount of time (depending on the manufacturer’s instructions), they will rinse the etchant away and dry the tooth.
Now the tooth is ready for bonding. A primer is placed on the tooth and dried. Then, an adhesive is placed on the tooth and cured with an ultraviolet light. Finally, the composite resin is placed in the tooth. It is packed down to fill the tooth and then shaped. Using the ultraviolet light, the material is cured.
Your Cerritos dentist will check your bite to make sure there are no high spots. If there are, they will smooth those down before polishing the filling.
Why You Should See a Cerritos Dentist Regularly
Your Cerritos dentist will recommend dental cleanings and examinations every six months. Why?
Your dentist wants to prevent major dental issues. Seeing a dentist often can help them find issues early and treat them right away. In some cases, the dental decay is so minor that it can be removed without needing any anesthesia.
Throughout your life, your body changes. Hormones, medications, and your body’s chemistry can impact your oral health. When you visit a family dentist in Cerritos twice a year, they can keep an eye on these changes and make sure they do not lead to big, expensive, painful problems down the road.
Are you worried you might have a cavity? Contact us right away to schedule an exam and consultation.