That is right, the sugar is not technically rotting your teeth. The bacteria residing in your mouth are the known culprits. As the bacteria builds up and multiplies in the mouth, it aids in the formation of a thin layer called plaque.
This film of plaque build-up is comprised of bacteria, food particles and more. As the plaque thickens and solidifies, the tooth will start to dissolve.
Prevention is the key; brush away that plaque with proper oral hygiene.
As described above, plaque is a thin biofilm comprised of food, bacteria, and other particles. Everyone has plaque and it starts as a thin, colorless layer on the tooth.
The plaque is constantly forming in the mouth. If plaque is not removed with proper oral hygiene, over time, it will develop into a thicker film known as tartar. Tartar can lead to gingivitis and gum disease. Dental plaque can be comprised of more than 300 different strains of bacteria.
The major component in oral hygiene is the prevention of plaque build-up.
Most children who have been to the dentist will have heard of sugar bugs. It’s a great description of the oral bacteria residents. These sugar bugs love to eat… sugar! You guessed it.
Although technically they do not cause the teeth to rot, they are a key player. They feed on the sugar and food particles in your mouth. If the bacteria do not have a food source readily available, they would not continue to thrive and multiply in the mouth.
With poor oral hygiene habits, the bacteria can continue to colonize causing the plaque to thicken and the decay to worsen.
Foods to Avoid
There are many other food sources besides just sugar. These other components to tooth erosion and tooth damage can be found in a multitude of food and drinks.
In order to keep dental health a top priority, this list is comprised of foods and drinks that you should avoid. Soda is listed below in its own category as there is a lot to be said about this carbonated beverage.
Ice: This may come as a shock since ice is just frozen water. It’s not that the water is a culprit; it’s chewing on the hard, crunchy ice that can lead to tooth damage.
Gummies: Chewy, squishy, gummy foods such as fruit snacks tend to stick to your teeth. You cannot easily wash this off with water and it can lead to plaque build-up. Gummies are a great food source for oral bacteria.
Gum with sugar: The constant chewing of gum that has sugar in it is considered a dental prevention no-no. It’s providing a food source to the mouth bacteria with the constant sugar chewing and directly pressing and latching onto the teeth. However, sugar-free gum can prevent tooth decay.
Sour Candy: Sour gummies or sour chews will stick to the teeth as they are gummy and easily adhere to the surface. They also have different acidity levels because of the sour flavorings.
Citrus Fruits: Although rich in Vitamin C, it’s the acidity that can continue to erode and eat away at the tooth enamel.
Crunchy Potato Chips: These salty snacks are crunchy. As you are eating potato chips, they can easily be lodged in crevices in the teeth.
The Damaging Truth about Soda
Soda can be extremely damaging to the teeth. As you learned above, it isn’t the sugar that causes tooth decay. It’s the bacteria, as well as the damage to your enamel, in the decay process.
Sugar is most definitely a culprit, but it does not act alone. Acid is a major factor in enamel erosion and damage. Soda is filled with phosphoric acid.
Not only is soda bad for your oral health, but it is also linked to obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis.
Diet Soda: This carbonated drink filled with sugar substitutes seems like it would ok because it does not have sugar, but it is acidic. In particular, it has phosphoric acid. This acidity can further cause tooth decay by wearing down the tooth enamel.
Regular Soda: Sugar filled sodas often have 10 packs of sugar in just one can of a 12-ounce soda! So not only does this carbonated sugar have the phosphoric acid, but it has sugar, the food source for oral bacteria.
You are certain to have eaten at least one of the foods or drinks above. If and when you do, it’s a good practice to swish your mouth out with water shortly afterward. This helps cut the acidity. It can serve as a short term solution until you are able to properly brush your teeth.
Also, consider chewing sugar-free gum in the interim as well.
Use a straw when you are drinking acidic beverages. This can help alleviate the direct contact with the acidity in the beverages, as well as benefiting your pearly whites by not allowing the staining properties of the beverages to directly harm your teeth.
Dental hygiene is an ancient concept. The first toothbrush was invented in 1498 from wild pig hairs in China.
Dental Hygiene Tips
Starting in Ancient China, the early concepts of oral hygiene were created. It’s a natural feeling to want to keep your teeth clean. Proper oral dental care can affect your entire body. Keeping your teeth clean is key for preventative oral care and overall health.
Brush your teeth with an ADA-approved soft bristle toothbrush. This should be a little softer than the boar-bristled brush that Ancient China used, and it will help protect your enamel more as well.
You should wait 30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth. Eating produces saliva and this can help with the mineralization on the teeth. You can still rinse your mouth out with water to get food particles out and help neutralize the acidity.
Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. Make sure you change out your toothbrush 2-3 times a year.
Flossing reaches 40% of the tooth surface that would otherwise be missed with regular brushing. Make sure you are using a long enough piece of floss so that each tooth surface is getting a clean piece of floss.
Be sure to visit your dentist at VIPcare Dental at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and an exam.