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Most people have heard the basic idea that sugar is bad for the teeth, but they do not actually know the full effect of sugary snacks on the teeth. Some people end up thinking even a miniscule amount of sugar will rot their teeth while others think is it true that sugary snacks are bad for the teeth. The reality is a little more complicated because sugar affects the mouth in several ways. If you are wondering what are the real effects of sugary snacks in your teeth keep reading to find out the shocking details.
What Happens in Your Mouth as Soon as You Eat Sugar?
Each time you eat something with sugar in it, your teeth, gums, and tongue interact with the sugar particles before you swallow the food. Even trace amounts of sugar have an immediate effect on the health of your mouth. To understand why it is true that sugary snacks are bad for the teeth, you need to take a look at each step in the process of sugar-inspired tooth decay. Here’s the answer to what happens to my teeth when I eat a lot of candies.
- Bacteria Begin to Grow
The human mouth is always loaded with bacteria. It might sound freaky to consider all of the tiny microorganisms living in your teeth, but they are usually kept at low levels where they do not cause issues. However, sugar is a perfect nutrient for many organisms. It is loaded in calories and directly provides the glucose needed for cells to metabolize energy. In humans who eat too much sugar, this causes obesity. For bacteria that are exposed to sugar, the results are a little different. Instead of individuals growing to a larger size, bacteria begin to multiply more rapidly. With enough sugar, you can end up getting large colonies of bacteria living in your mouth.
- Levels of Acid in Mouth Increase
You might not be able to see all the bacteria living in your mouth, but their effects are definitely known. As the bacteria metabolize the sugar and use it to create more bacterial cells, they produce byproducts. These waste materials are quite acidic. As more and more bacteria grow, produce more acidic waste products, and create new bacteria, acid levels in the mouth begin to rise.
- Teeth Cannot Be Remineralized
The problem with having an acidic environment in the mouth is that it destroys the delicate balance of remineralization. Normally, slightly acidic products pull minerals out of the teeth, but mineral-rich saliva replaces minerals in the teeth before it becomes an issue. Unfortunately, there is only so much mineralization your saliva can provide. When you are eating a lot of sugary snacks and creating more bacteria growth in the mouth, the rate of acid pulling minerals from the teeth will be faster than your body can replace them.
- Tooth Structure Begins to Break Down
Without minerals in the teeth, tooth structure will begin to break down. The protective enamel and dentine begin to erode, and bacteria can end up sitting on these tiny pockets of space and produce more acid that causes more erosion. Eventually, a cavity can form. This is a permanently decaying area that is not capable of staying healthy. If left untreated, the tooth can become so infected that it dies and falls out. So as you can see, the answer to “what are the real effects of sugary snacks in your teeth” is essentially tooth loss.
Are There Long-Term Effects of Eating Sugary Snacks?
An increased risk of cavities is not the only effect of eating sugary snacks. Over time, excessive sugar causes all sorts of problems with your health. Higher sugar consumption is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, dementia, and other chronic health conditions. If you are constantly loading your system with sugar, it may lose the ability to properly metabolize sugar.
Those who get diabetes from chronically high sugar consumption suffer from even more problems. In addition to an increased risk of nerve damage, unhealed wounds, and eyesight loss, diabetes is also responsible for many cases of gum disease. The high blood glucose levels can damage all the tiny blood vessels in the gums, and the damaged gum tissue is more likely to get infected. People with diabetes frequently end up losing many teeth due to gum disease.
Can You Protect Your Mouth from Sugar?
Since chronically high sugar consumption can result in many health problems, it is a good idea to keep sugar levels low. Medical professionals recommend that people eat no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day. Unfortunately, it can be hard to avoid sugar altogether. Almost all processed foods have added sugars in them, and many restaurants add extra sugar to dishes to enhance the flavor. You can try to avoid these whenever possible, but there might be days when you do not have the time or energy to prepare your own healthy meals from scratch.
Anytime you eat something sugary, be sure to at least rinse your mouth out with water. Whenever possible, make sure to brush your teeth right after eating. This will help to reduce what happens to my teeth when I eat a lot of candies because it will remove excessive sugar. It is generally worse for tooth health to chronically expose the teeth to sugar instead of having all of your daily sugar at once. Doing things like sucking on candies or sipping sodas all day means your mouth is constantly getting more sugar instead of having a chance to remineralize teeth.
Regular dental and orthodontic visits are an important part of keeping your mouth safe from the effects of sugar. They can let you know about any demineralized spots and notice cavities before the cavities become large enough to destabilize the entire tooth. To learn more about how you can protect your teeth from sugar, get in touch with our orthodontic office today!
2002 Richard Jones Road
Nashville, TN 37215
Phone: 615 269 5903
The Real Effects of Sugary Snacks
Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.