At-home care and regular dental visits are two essential parts to keeping your mouth healthy for years to come. But with those habits comes a third one: proper diet. We can brush and floss as much as we want, but just like how our bones need calcium and our muscles need protein, our teeth need to be getting the right nutrients to stay healthy.
That’s why your dentist wants to talk about keeping a healthy diet and how sugar is only hurting your oral health.
How Diet Affects Your Oral Health
As you eat foods throughout the day, certain foods do you mouth favors while others only make it harder to fight bacteria. For example, foods that are high in vitamin C are ideal for reducing inflammation and foods containing microbials can fight plaque-causing bacteria. Foods like sugar, however, make it constantly work to protect your teeth and gums.
Your body contains many different strains of bacteria both good and bad. They compete for space in your mouth and body. The bacteria that normally are contained in small numbers are kept in check by the good bacteria. Consuming sugar causes the bad bacteria to overgrow. This leads to increased body inflammation and causes a myriad of problems throughout your body. This is why sugar is the number one cause of inflammation and should be avoided to help maintain homeostasis in your body.
Eating a balanced diet helps your mouth produce saliva, which doesn’t just wash away food debris; it also contributes to remineralizing your teeth. As acids hit your teeth, it causes your enamel to demineralize over time. Saliva contains calcium and phosphates which repair weakened enamel, so keeping a constant flow of saliva is imperative to preventing tooth decay.
How Sugar Causes Tooth Decay
The mouth contains hundreds of bacteria, much of which is good for your mouth’s ecosystem. But did you know there’s bacteria that feeds on sugar and creates acid? This acid destroys your tooth enamel over time and eventually creates cavities.
If tooth decay gets severe, it can travel into the deeper layers of the tooth. Once it gets to the tooth roots, you’ll start to feel severe pain. Without treatment, your teeth literally rot from the inside and eventually your mouth pushes teeth out to remove the bacteria.
How Sugar Causes Inflammation
As bacteria consumes sugar, it begins collecting on the surface of your teeth and forms into plaque. Just like how the toxins attack teeth and cause decay, toxins in plaque will irritate your gums and cause them to swell, bleed, and become inflamed.
As this plaque grows, it turns into a hardened form known as tartar or calculus. Without removing it, your gums will actually begin pulling away from your teeth and become more exposed, making it easier for bacteria to enter. This leads to severe gum disease which can cause tooth loss and leave you more vulnerable to infection.
Lowering your sugar intake and having a balanced intake is just as important as regular dental care. To learn more dieting tips, schedule an appointment with your dentist today and stop decay and inflammation in its tracks!
About the Author
Dr. Benjamin Hornstein’s experience is incredibly broad, covering many different facets of dentistry. This includes pediatric, periodontal, dental reconstruction, and many more areas. He’s studied at the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies and is a member of the ADA, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Greater Cleveland Dental Association. To learn more about preventive services his practice provides, contact him at (216) 595-1710 or visit his website.