Sugar & Oral Hygiene: What You Need to Know!

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With the holidays quickly approaching, we are all beginning to indulge in more sweet treats. From Halloween candy to Christmas cookies, the sources of sugar are abundant! Understanding how sugar affects your dental health can help you make better choices while still enjoying the treats you look forward to all year long. 

How Does Sugar Affect Your Oral Health?

While we know that cutting sugar out of your diet entirely is nearly impossible, especially during the holiday season, it is important to understand the implications of over-indulging. Here are a few of the ways sugar affects your oral health:

Sugar Feeds the Bacteria In Your Mouth

Although some types of bacteria in your mouth are good, others can quickly wreak havoc. When you eat or drink things that are high in sugar, you encourage bad bacteria to grow at an exponential rate. This bacteria presents itself as dental plaque that forms on the surface of your teeth. If left untreated, plaque can eventually lead to cavities and tooth decay.

Sugar Affects the pH Level of Your Mouth

You probably haven’t thought about your body’s pH level since your middle-school science class. Here’s a quick refresher: when the pH level of your body falls below seven, you have what is considered an acidic environment. In this acidic environment, saliva quickly begins to disintegrate your tooth’s enamel. Without this important protective layer, your tooth is more susceptible to decay and disease.

Sugar Can Cause a Decrease in Saliva

Sugar can affect your oral health in ways other than causing direct damage to your teeth. Enjoying excessive amounts of sugar can actually alter your salivary glands, leading to dry mouth. Often overlooked, saliva plays an important role in keeping your teeth clean and your mouth fresh. Without proper amounts of saliva, you are not only susceptible to bad breath but you are also at a higher risk of developing cavities.

Combating Sugary Treats With Proper Oral Hygiene

Luckily, there are many things you can do to combat your sugar intake. Proper oral hygiene is the best way to protect your smile and prevent disease and decay. Here are a few things to you can do to combat the effects of those tasty treats:

Rinse With Water After Enjoying a Sweet Treat

It is certainly important to monitor your sugar intake for both your oral and overall health. However, if you do choose to indulge in a treat, rinsing with water afterward is a great way to limit the effects of sugar on your teeth. 

Practice Proper Oral Hygiene

While it is important to practice proper oral hygiene every day, it is especially important to diligently clean your teeth after enjoying a sugary treat. As our schedules continue to get busier, commit to making your oral health a priority. Brush twice a day for two minutes each time, floss thoroughly once a day, and rinse with water after every meal.

Dental Cleanings Are the Best Way to Prevent Sugar Damage

Although at-home oral hygiene helps to stave off the effects of sugar, professional dental cleanings are the only way to properly remove dental plaque caused by your sweet treats. As we approach the holiday season, take a moment to look at your calendar and schedule your next dental cleaning and exam. We look forward to seeing you during your next visit!

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