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Does Sugar Cause Cavities?

Does Sugar Cause Cavities?

Cavities are multifactorial. Simply a combination of bacteria in your mouth, poor diet, frequent snacking, and poor oral hygiene can all lead to teeth breaking down and turning soft. Ultimately, microbes and bacteria that are left to fester on the teeth create cavities and contribute to poor oral health. So how does sugar cause cavities? Well, sugar plays a vital role in the development of cavities, but as noted, it’s not the only factor at play. 

Sugar’s Role In Cavities

Diet is an important element in cavity formation. Frequently consuming sugary drinks and snacks without taking time to clean your teeth can certainly lead to cavities. In addition to high levels of sugar intake in your diet, sugar can also increase the possibility of developing gum disease. 

However, sugar isn’t the lone culprit. Other foods, even healthy ones, can also lead to cavities. Excluding sugar, any food that consists of fermentable carbohydrates can also contribute to tooth decay. Some examples would be pretzels, bread, dried fruits – basically anything that can create an acidic environment in your mouth can also lead to cavities.

What’s essential is that moderation is everything. So enjoy your sweet treats, but continue to practice proper oral health care to help reduce the risk of sugar-related problems such as cavities or gum disease.. 

How To Prevent Cavities

One sure way to prevent cavities is to decrease the frequency of eating or snacking throughout the day. We know it can be hard to break a routine, but snacking on those delicious cookies over a prolonged time can be problematic to your teeth. We often say, a cookie every 15 minutes for an hour is worse than four cookies in 10 minutes. This is because the bacteria and acid from snacking build up and sit on your teeth over that long span of time. A helpful way to rinse food debris off your teeth after snacking or eating is by drinking lots of water. Consuming water throughout the day will help neutralize the acidic environment in your mouth. Our dentists also recommend sugar-free chewing gum as a helpful tool to prevent cavities as it can stimulate saliva and help clean your teeth. 

While brushing after each meal is always a good idea, it’s important to incorporate consistent flossing and the use of mouthwash into your routine as well. These two routine habits are a great supplement to brushing and help protect and clean your teeth. In addition, swishing with mouthwash not only helps to get the debris off your teeth but it can also get to the hard-to-reach places. By creating these healthy oral hygiene habits, you’ll be well on your way to a cavity-free mouth. 

Keeping A Healthy Cavity-Free Mouth

If adding these routines into your day seems tedious or time-consuming, just remember that they will go a long way to maintaining a healthy mouth. Of course, there will always be a risk with eating almost anything, whether it be sugar, carbohydrates, or highly acidic foods. The more sugary and acidic, the more potential for a cavity to develop. But staying mindful of these effects and taking simple steps to combat them will help you protect your oral health.

The holiday season is upon us, and we know that sweets are abundant this time of year. Individuals should enjoy the holidays and all the fun treats that come with them. The development of cavities or gum disease can be caused by many things all year long, and increasing sugar consumption during the holidays does not mean you are doomed to cavities. Keep up on your oral hygiene routines, and just remember to take time to brush, floss, use mouthwash, and drink lots of water! 

If you want to learn more about how to prevent cavities, schedule an appointment with Oral Health Associates and welcome the new year with a bright and healthy smile.

Dr. Adam Koch, D.D.S.

About the Author

Dr. Adam Koch, D.D.S.

Dr. Adam Koch is proud to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a third-generation family dentist in Green Bay. He received his undergraduate from the University of Northern Iowa and earned his board certification and Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Creighton University School of Dentistry. Dr. Koch is also a member of the advisory board for the NWTC Dental Hygiene Program. View Dr. Koch full bio>>

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