Sugar has been badmouthed for many years, but one look at store shelves shows it still to be incredibly popular with consumers. Dental experts have been warning people about the ill effects of sugar on dental health for a long time but you may be wondering if sugar really has all that much to do with cavities. Read on to find out more about what does cause cavities and how to prevent it from happening in your mouth.
The Anatomy of a Cavity
Also known as dental caries, a cavity is an opening in the enamel of a tooth. Cavities can be caused by any intrusion that allows bacteria to enter. Cracks, breaks, gum disease, and the wearing down of enamel all contribute to cavities being formed. One an opening is present, decay is sure to follow. The cause of most cavities is plaque. Plaque is a sticky, concentrated form of bacteria that attacks tooth enamel and causes the damage. Plaque can be prevented by regular brushing and flossing. Once plaque is present, however, the removal will require a trip to the dentist for a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist. Cavities are painful because the decay leaves the nerves of the tooth exposed to air, food, saliva, etc.
The Part Sugar Plays in Cavity Formation
Sugar does not directly cause cavities, but it is the digestion of sugar that creates the bacteria that goes on to potentially cause a cavity. The digestion of all foods, whether sweets, carbs, dairy, proteins or whatever causes the same issues as sugar with bacteria in the mouth. The act of eating is the beginning phase of digestion and your saliva contains digestive enzymes that can have an acidic effect your enamel. The acids act to eat away at your enamel in a process that strips the minerals away and leaves the surface vulnerable to wear and breakage.
Dealing With Cavities
If the bacteria wends its way into your enamel, you will likely experience pain and eventually tooth loss. Your dentist can repair a cavity if caught early on, but serious problems might call for root canal surgery.
Make Your Mouth Safe for Sugar Again
There is no more need to avoid sugar in your diet than any other food. There is a need, however, to address the damage caused by eating. Fortunately, the problems caused by foods are easily prevented by using the tried and true advice to brush and floss and see your dentist regularly.
Contact a dental clinic, like Brookside Dental Associate, for more help.