You’ve probably heard all your life that sweets are bad for your teeth. This is not an exaggeration—it’s true. Additionally, when you eat something with starch, enzymes in your mouth will convert most of it to a sugar within an hour. Keep that in mind when snacking!
How Sugar Damages Your Teeth
The bacteria in your mouth that are associated with cavities (Streptococcus mutans) digest the sugars you eat and produce lactic acid, which eats away tooth enamel. This process is called demineralization. Repeated acid attacks cause mineral loss and over time, weaken and destroy the enamel, forming what is commonly known as a cavity.
While sugars are bad for your tooth enamel, sipping sugary beverages is particularly damaging. When we sip over a long period of time, we are repeatedly exposing our teeth to sugar and giving those acids repeated opportunities damage our enamel.
While sodas are known to be high in sugar, even drinks that are marketed as “healthy” or “all natural” can also be high in sugar. A glass of apple juice, for example, can contain nearly as much sugar as a soda. The best choice is to drink beverages that have no or low sugar.
Tips to Limit the Damage of Sugary Drinks
- Instead of sipping your sugared beverage, drink it quickly to reduce repeated exposure and give your saliva time to neutralize the acids.
- If you can’t brush, swish and rinse afterward with water to remove as much sugar as possible.
- If you give your child juice, have them drink it with meals only, and put water in a sippy cup that they might carry around during the day.
- Alternative beverage options that are less damaging to enamel include water, sparkling water, unsweetened tea, milk or diluted juice
The best way to avoid painful and costly problems with your teeth is to get regular dental cleanings and check-ups. Make your appointment today at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location.