Although everyone enjoys a sugary beverage, an ice cream sundae, or a slice of cake now and then, sugar can directly result in tooth decay. It is not so much the sugar as it is the chain of events that follows when individuals consume sugary foods or beverages that raise dental health concerns.
Actively attracting damaging bacteria, sugar can contribute to the reduction of pH levels in the mouth. In particular, Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sorbrinus are two incredibly harmful bacterias found in the mouth. “Both of them feed on the sugar you eat and form dental plaque, which is a sticky, colorless film that forms on the surface of the teeth.” If this plaque is not removed, the mouth’s environment may become increasingly acidic, and cavities may begin to crop up.
When the pH of plaque present on the teeth drops below normal, or below 5.5, the acidity may begin to break down minerals, devastating a tooth’s enamel. As a result, tiny holes or erosions can emerge, growing more extensive over time, and eventually becoming one massive hole or cavity.
There is an abundance of scientific evidence that verifies that there are specific foods that significantly contribute to the formation of cavities. For instance, snack foods, especially those high in sugar content, like sweets and sugary drinks, can result in cavities. And persistent snacking on such foods prolongs the teeth’s exposure to the harmful effects of numerous acids, giving dangerous bacteria time to wreak havoc, leading to tooth decay. Moreover, sugary soft drinks such as juices, sports drinks, and energy drinks can also result in tooth decay due to their acidity levels. So much so that drinking more than two sugary beverages per day can nearly triple an individual’s likelihood of losing six teeth or more in adulthood.
Additionally, sticky foods like lollipops, hard candies, and breath mints are also closely associated with tooth decay. Because these foods remain in the mouth for prolonged periods, their sugar contents are dispersed little by little. And this provides ample time for destructive bacterias to form in the mouth and, in turn, to produce greater amounts of acid.
A balanced diet consisting of plentiful amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products can help combat tooth decay. Consuming an abundance of raw fruits and vegetables can also elevate saliva flow in the mouth, helping to regulate the mouth’s pH.
It is also beneficial to minimize the consumption of sugary treats and drinks. Indulging in such foods and drinks should occur in moderation. Sugary foods and beverages should be had with meals, if at all. And using a straw when consuming sugary, acidic drinks can help reduce teeth’s exposure to the harmful sugars and acids.
Water consists of zero sugars, acids, or calories. Drinking water, particularly tap water as it contains a great deal of fluoride, can help rinse out the mouth and dilute the sugars from sweet treats that may adhere to the teeth.
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