The Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth

A school in England made the news recently, and teachers (and dentists!) are cheering. They are happy because the school has banned students from drinking sugary drinks at school. Students’ drink choices are limited to water and milk while on school grounds.

So, what’s the big deal with sugary drinks?

Everyone will tell you drinking too much soda isn’t good for your waistline. Now, more and more dentists are being heard as they warn us that sugary drinks and foods high in sugar are terrible for our teeth too.

Here’s what you should know about sugary drinks and foods and their effects on your pearly whites.

1. How much sugar you eat at one time isn’t as big of an issue as how often you drink sugary drinks or eat foods high in sugar. Drinking pop all day long, in the long run, is much more damaging than one 16 ounce chocolate bar for breakfast.

What to do? Limit the number of times each day you consume sugary drinks and foods: limit sugary drinks and foods high in sugar to only meal times.

2. Sugar is found in nature, but sugars from fresh fruit and fruit juices are just as likely to cause cavities and acid erosion as table sugar. Table sugar (sucrose) is associated most closely with cavities, but the natural sugars in fruit (glucose, fructose and maltose) aren’t that great for your teeth either.

What to do? Don’t assume that “healthy” foods are also good for you teeth. Sports drinks, fruit juices like orange juice, and dried fruits are some sneaky “health” foods that can cause cavities and other problems.

3. The is a constant war going on in your mouth: sugars in your foods and drinks are turned into harmful acids by the bacteria in your mouth. These acids start to break down your tooth enamel (a process called demineralization). In between eating or drinking, your saliva and fluoride in the water and fluoride toothpaste help to replace the lost strength of your tooth enamel (a process called remineralization).

What to do? Keep fighting back! Don’t eat or drink sugary stuff all day long, brush and floss regularly, and give your own saliva a chance to do its work to keep your teeth strong. Regular dentist visits will also ensure that you are doing everything you can to protect your teeth and smile.