Does Sugar Cause Cavities? How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?

Does Sugar Cause Cavities? How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?

Jan 01, 2023

During childhood, you might have been told that eating too much sugar can cause holes or cavities in your teeth. Many conclude that people simply used the phrase to discourage children from consuming too much sugar since it’s bad for their health. So, does sugar cause cavities? Like most people, you might have struggled to establish a connection between sugar and tooth decay or cavities. Read on to understand more about the relationship between the two.

What is a cavity?

Cavities, also known as dental caries, are small holes or openings in the teeth’ enamel. Cavities are common in both adults and children. Typically, cavities forms when the tooth enamel is destroyed by acid attacks from plaque – a sticky clear film of bacteria that buildups on the tooth and along the gum line.

If not cleaned sooner, plaque hardens to form tartar, a hard deposit that normal brushing can’t eliminate. Over time, these deposits release harmful acids that erode the teeth and irritate the gums, causing tooth decay and gum inflammation.

If left untreated, the decay continues to eat up the tooth structure, causing deeper cavities that expose the tooth’s pulp. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues that keep the tooth alive. A root canal is needed to remove the infected pulp and save the tooth.

Signs you might have cavities or tooth decay include:

  • Tooth pain when chewing or biting down
  • Persistent tooth pain
  • Swollen or sensitive gums near a painful tooth
  • Teeth sensitivity to heat, cold, or sugar
  • Tiny holes in teeth
  • Brown or dark spots on the tooth surface
  • Dental abscesses

Visit our dentist in Berkeley Heights if you have these symptoms. It’s also worth noting that not all caries show apparent symptoms, especially in the initial formation stages. Fortunately, the dentist can detect cavities during routine dental exams and cleanings.

Does Sugar Cause Cavities?

No. Sugar or sweets does not cause cavities or dental caries. However, high sugar intake can encourage bacterial growth in the mouth. Without excellent oral hygiene, these bacteria mix with the saliva and other debris in the mouth to form plaque and tartar, which produce harmful acids that cause cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. These issues can further lead to tooth loss, bone loss, and other serious oral and health complications like diabetes, stroke, certain cancers, heart attacks, and a weakened immune system.

While eating sugary increases your risk of developing cavities and other oral issues, you don’t have to avoid it entirely. If you must take it, proper oral hygiene is essential to prevent bacterial buildup in the mouth. Rinse or brush your mouth after consuming sugary items. Staying hydrated can also help wash away bacteria, acids, and debris in the mouth, reducing your risk of cavities and other oral issues.

How to Treat Cavities

In the early stages, you can treat cavities using standard procedures like:

  • Fluoride treatments entail applying fluoride varnish on teeth to remineralize and strengthen them against damage and cavities.
  • Dental bonding involves applying a tooth-colored bonding material to repair worn-out enamel and prevent further damage to a tooth.
  • Dental fillings: If tooth decay has passed the enamel, the dentist will remove the damaged areas of the tooth and fill the spaces left with a filling material.
  • Dental crowns: The dentist will remove the decayed parts of the tooth and then place a dental crown over the tooth for added protection and strength.
  • Root canal therapy: A root canal entails removing an infected pulp to prevent the infection from spreading and save your tooth.
  • Tooth extraction: If the damage to the tooth is too extreme to repair, the tooth can be removed and replaced with implants or bridges.

Oral Care Tips to Prevent Cavities

  • Brush at least twice daily.
  • Floss daily.
  • Limit sugary and acidic food items.
  • Schedule routine dental checkups.
  • Have professional cleanings every six months.
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste and water.
  • Get routine fluoride treatments to remineralize and strengthen your teeth.
  • Avoid chewing hard items like ice and hard candy.
  • Chew sugar-free gums between meals.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Do you need cavity treatment? Contact Jersey Smile or visit our dental clinic in Berkeley Heights for more information.

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