Sugar is not good for your teeth, and it is not a fact that is easy to accept. This is a hard lesson you eventually learn in your childhood. You would pester your parents to buy you those delectable candies and every time they would heed your demand- you would feel satiated and happy and munch on those without much to worry. But then one fine morning, you would wake up with an excruciating pain in your teeth.
We are always taught to be careful when consuming candies and sugar. Teeth, as we all know, are very vulnerable to decay and hence needs to be taken care of. We know that sugar makes teeth more prone to harm, but we do not seem to know how and why. Sugar makes your mouth the breeding ground for all types of bacteria. Be it in the form of coffee, tea, the starch in bread, carbonated drinks, candies- a high sugar content can gradually lead to tooth decay and an assortment of other problems too (bad breadth, infections, mouth sores, gum problems).
But let us try to understand how sugar initiates and accelerates bacterial growth. For this, we will first have to look at how cavities develop.
The natural processes inside your mouth are fighting a constant battle with bacteria. Now the mouth can never be fully free from bacteria but can maintain a fine balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria to keep the system in place. Sugar is the main nutrient for replenishing the harmful bacteria, and they in return create acids. These acids gradually tear down the enamel coating. Cavities might look like holes in your teeth, but in actuality they are bacterial infections caused by these acids. Cavities usually penetrate into the tooth and lead to tooth loss accompanied by extreme bouts of pain.
The mouth has its mechanism in place to immunize itself against such acids. The minerals in the enamel which are lost owing to these acids are replenished by a natural process called remineralization. Here saliva plays a key role. Saliva is endowed with minerals like phosphates and calcium which help in revitalizing the teeth. Fluoride also restores the strength of the enamel. This replenishment, however, is at risk when we consume a lot of sugar. By having a lot of sugar, we do not allow the natural immune responses optimum time to make an impact.
Countering cavities and maintaining dental health:
There are effective ways to artificially increase the saliva flow. Sugarless gums, fibrous fruits and vegetables help in producing more saliva. Dairy products like cheese and yoghurt supply minerals like phosphates and calcium. The antioxidant properties of green tea also help in fighting oral bacteria, but we should have the tea without sugar to help this cause.
Fluoride replenishment is of utmost necessity for proper dental health. This can be made possible by drinking lots of fluoridated water. Brushing regularly helps in maintaining the fluoride balance. A strong enamel is the first step to stronger teeth and fluorides hence play a key role in enhancing the immune system in the mouth.
Sugar should be avoided as much as possible if oral health is one of our main priorities. Or else, the later horrors of a toothache would eventually force us to look back regretfully.