Nutritionists, biological scientists, and dentists have long known the havoc that sugar can wreak upon a healthy mind, body, and mouth. It’s only now the rest of us have joined the anti-sugar bandwagon. We all know that a diet high in refined sugars can lead to cavities, but how does a delicious chocolaty confection lead to holes in your pearly whites?

Sugar is not the direct cause of cavities but they do share a strong link. Your body is full of good and bad bacteria. In your mouth bad bacteria form a soft, sticky biofilm on your teeth. Everything you eat begins to break down from the moment you take your first bite and the unhealthy bacteria love to feed off of the sugar. As the bad bacteria feed on the sugar in your afternoon snack they produce harmful acid that can eventually cause cavities.

What exactly is a cavity? Cavities, or caries, are in simplest terms tiny holes. Moreover, cavities are the product of tooth decay that has occurred over time. The constant barrage of sugar feeds plaque and the resulting acid weakens enamel and leeches minerals from the teeth. Without proper dental care you may notice early signs of decay including white spots on the tooth. Often only your dentist will catch the earliest warning signs of tooth decay so it’s important to schedule regular checkups. As tooth decay becomes more advanced you may lead to toothache, sensitivity, and even gingivitis.

Your saliva plays a key role in fighting plaque-produced acids. As mentioned before the acid leeches minerals from the teeth in a process called demineralization. Healthy saliva carries trace minerals that constantly help you remineralize your teeth throughout the day. You can help your saliva by eating foods that stimulate its creation and support remineralization. Natural yogurt is a great snack with minerals you need to support healthy teeth.

You don’t have to stop consuming your favorite treats altogether to enjoy healthy teeth. Moderation and a strong dental care routine are essential to winning the battle against tooth decay. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day at minimum. If you find yourself without a toothbrush or floss midday after a sugary snack, swishing water may reduce the amount of sugar that clings to your teeth. Even though fruits and vegetables may contain sugar, they are a far better snacking choice because they wash away easily with saliva and are less likely to stick around.

While sugar and other simple carbs aren’t the immediate cause of cavities, they do play catalytic role in their creation. Regular dental checkups increase the chance that your dental team can find and fix tooth decay in its earliest stages. You can help at home by eating sweet treats in moderation and following your daily oral healthcare routine. If you experience tooth pain and sensitivity or see discolored spots on your teeth bring it to the attention of your dental care provider as soon as possible to prevent chances of advanced tooth decay.

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