Is Sugar Really the Main Cause of Cavities?

As a child, you probably remember dire warnings from your parents about candy and sugar destroying your teeth. You may also pass those warnings down to your own children in an effort to keep their smiles healthy, as well. While its impact on your teeth is well-known, such as its penchant for causing cavities, many people mistakenly believe that sugar is the main threat. The truth, however, is that sugar is only a minor cause of cavities; the real culprit is the oral bacteria that naturally inhabit our mouths. 

How Cavities Actually Form

A healthy human mouth contains hundreds of different types of oral bacteria. Most are harmless, but some convert the nutrients in your food and beverages into harmful substances, like acids. When oral bacteria collect on your teeth and form plaque, they release these acids and weaken the enamel around your teeth. Poor hygiene, excessive sugar consumption, and avoiding the dentist can allow these bacteria time to destroy tooth enamel and infect the body of a tooth—a condition known as tooth decay. Before long, the tooth will develop a cavity, or hole, as decay continues to spread through it.

Sugar’s True Role in Cavity Formation

Sugar is a significant concern because it (along with other carbohydrates) is metabolized by oral bacteria into enamel-destroying acids. The bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, are of particular concern because of their efficiency in producing acid from sugar. In addition to the natural acids that your food contains, this influx of bacteria-produced substances greatly increases the risks of enamel erosion and tooth infection.

Protect Your Child’s Teeth from Sugar and Cavities

The best way to protect children’s teeth from sugar and cavities is to teach them how to protect themselves with good hygiene and careful eating habits. Regular visits to the dentist are also vitally important. To schedule an appointment for your child, call Pediatric Dental Care at Casa Linda in Dallas, TX today at 214-321-4880.

filed under: Cavities/Tooth Decay