Sugar: we all know the damage it can do to our teeth. It’s instrumental in the development of cavities, gum disease, and eventual tooth loss. Many people have opted for a diet consisting of less sugar and various sugar-free products. While it can be good to lessen your sugar intake sugar free doesn’t necessarily mean it’s tooth friendly!
At New Albany Implants we’re not just in the business of replacing your teeth: we want you to keep your natural teeth safe and healthy for as long as you can. If you’re a sugar-free food and drink junkie there’s some important things you need to know about your favorite sweet alternatives.
How Sugar Ruins Your Teeth
Sugar itself isn’t the tooth killer you might think it is: it’s just a catalyst in the development of acids that ruin your smile. The bacteria in your mouth loves sugar just as much as you do, and a lot of the strains you live with turn that sugar into acid when they eat it. Plaque acids soften your enamel and eventually cause it to break away, forming small cavities that just keep getting larger and deeper.
Bacteria always wants to find the safest place for it to hide out, and that means escaping your brushing and flossing. Cavities in teeth are the perfect hiding spots, so they set up shop and just keep eating sugar without you being able to stop them! Before you know it you have some big cavities that are causing some serious toothaches!
Doesn’t Eliminating Sugar Eliminate The Risk?
It seems like a natural sequence of events: get rid of sugar, get rid of the catalyst for tooth decay, right? While that is true to an extent it isn’t the whole of it.
One of the most commonly sugary things people consume is beverages. Soda, juice, sports drinks, even flavored mineral waters are all sugar-rich and great at causing cavities. Many of those probably come as no surprise, especially the soda, but you might not realize how dangerous sugar-free alternatives can be!
A lot of patients don’t stop to think about what sugar free drinks can do to their teeth but the reality is pretty unpleasant. The problem stems not from sugar substitutes or other sweeteners, but from another common ingredient in many beverages: acids.
Acids In Sugar Free Drinks?
That’s right: there are a lot of acids and acidic drinks out there that can do a number on your teeth without the need for sugar. Soda, some juices, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other products are all really acidic, and can dissolve tooth enamel with surprising efficiency.
Think of it this way: with sugar and acids in a drink you’re getting a double-whammy of acid. The acids in the drink do the same things to your teeth that plaque acids do, so trouble just gets doubled. Take away the sugar and you’re getting rid of some of the risk, but not nearly all of it: there’s still all that acid in the drink itself!
If you’re the kind of person who seeks out sugar-free sodas or energy drinks because they’re better for your teeth that’s some pretty bad news: they’re pretty much just as dangerous.
Go Sugar Free And Save Your Teeth Too
Those sugar-free drinks are still a good way to cut some sugar out of your diet, just don’t assume they’re miracles. We recommend drinking plenty of water to rinse away acids and bacteria. In fact, if you’re looking for something refreshing just grab some water in the first place – it’s what your body really needs!
It’s also essential to take care of your teeth by brushing and flossing, but there’s an important qualifier when it comes to acid: give your teeth at least 20 minutes before brushing them. Acids soften your enamel and actually make it possible for brushes to scrape and scratch it, but 20 minutes is enough time for the enamel to reharden.
Lastly, you need to be sure we’re seeing you for regular comprehensive dental exams. It’s important to get a regular inspection of your teeth to be sure there aren’t any hidden hotspots that could cause trouble down the road. Six months is also the perfect window to fix problems before they get worse, so don’t wait around: make an appointment at New Albany Implants today!