The effects of sugar on oral health

09 Mar 2021

The effects of sugar on oral health

Exposing your teeth and gums to sugar is one of the biggest concerns in oral care.

As the sugar clings to the teeth and seeps into the gum tissue, it breeds bacteria that can cause cavities and diseases. However, a better understanding of the relationship between sugar and oral health can help you take better care of your teeth, so these issues won’t become a problem. While you should visit our dental center in Ottawa as soon as possible, this brief overview can give you a head start in taking better care of your teeth and gums.

How Does Sugar Affect Oral Health?

Your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, and while there are hundreds of types of bacteria that thrive in your mouth, not all of them are bad. Your mouth also contains beneficial bacteria that help protect your teeth. However, they can’t do much good when you are flooding your mouth with sugar. The sugar you eat tends to linger in your mouth, feeding harmful bacteria and allowing them to grow.

As harmful bacteria grow, they produce acid, which is responsible for eroding tooth enamel. Enamel is the coating on the outside of each tooth that helps protect it from decay, but once the acid begins to attack this substance, the internal parts of the tooth are exposed. When holes appear in the enamel, bacteria cross this barrier and infect the inner surface of the tooth. This bacterial infection is the cause of the development of cavities. If left untreated, the infection will continue to grow. Once it extends deep enough to touch the roots and nerve endings, you will start to experience the pain of a toothache. When treatment is delayed for a long time, the infection can get worse and cause gum infection and bone loss.

Sweet foods to avoid

Although it’s a good idea to avoid sugar as much as possible. Certain foods have been shown to be particularly dangerous for oral health. Here is a shortlist of the most dangerous foods.

  • Sour candy: While all types of candies are bad for your oral health, sour candy is particularly disastrous. In order to create this sour taste, manufacturers add different types of acids which can accelerate tooth enamel decay. In addition, sour candies are soft and chewy, which makes them adhere to the tissues of both the tooth and the gum.


  • White bread: White bread products are refined carbohydrates that the body easily breaks down into glucose, also called sugar. To avoid adding sugar from this source, switch to whole grain products, as these products are more difficult to break down.


  • Alcohol: You have probably noticed that you feel more thirsty after a few drinks of alcohol. This is because alcohol dries out your mouth and inhibits your ability to produce saliva. Your oral health depends on saliva because it removes sugar and bacteria from the mouth to protect your teeth and gums.


  • Carbonated drinks and citrus juices: These drinks attack your mouth in two ways. First, there is the high concentration that feeds the bacteria already present in your mouth. Second, soda contains added acids that preserve the flavor and carbonation of the drink. This acid also works by causing tooth enamel to erode faster, which is why people who drink soda frequently develop cavities more often. The natural acids in citrus juices affect oral health in the same way.

Caring for your teeth after eating sugary foods

While it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day, you should brush your teeth more often when eating sugary foods. You should use fluoride toothpaste and also rinse your mouth with fluoride mouthwash. Also, be sure to floss after eating soft or chewy foods to help remove food particles between your teeth. A toothpick can help push these particles out of the space between the tooth and the gum line for extra protection. Since you should brush your teeth more often, you may need to floss more than once per day if you eat sweets frequently.

Regular dental check-ups should be a part of your routine, regardless of your diet. It is cheaper and less painful to treat tooth decay early on than to wait. Regular cleanings and checkups can help you avoid root canal procedures, tooth extractions, and other more invasive procedures.

Visit Inova Dental in Ottawa today for a dental exam. Contact us today to make an appointment, together you and your dentist can keep your smile bright and healthy.

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