Aside being linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity, dentists from America have said there is another negative effect of refined carbohydrate, sugar and this could damage one’s teeth.
A research conducted and published on Thewashingtonpost shows the significant rise in tooth – grinding and jaw clenching, an increase in cavities and gum disease that may be due to a combination of lapsed appointments, pandemic eating, drinking habits, and less-than-stellar brushing and flossing.
According to a survey conducted by the American Dental Association, 76 per cent of general practice dentists said the prevalence of teeth-grinding, or bruxism, among their patients had increased due to what their patients consume. In addition, they discovered more tooth decay and periodontal disease, an infection of the tissues surrounding teeth, in their patients due to what they eat.
Explaining how it works, Brad Guyton, chief dental officer for Delta Dental of Virginia, said sugar has a direct connection to tooth decay. When you consume sugar, it immediately begins interacting with the plaque bacteria to produce acid. The acid then dissolves your enamel slowly, creating the cavities in your teeth, thereby making the acid the culprit for tooth decay — not the sugar. Tooth decay often results in tooth abscesses, where you may need to visit the dentist to have the tooth extracted.
“Your mouth is full of bacteria, many are beneficial, while others are harmful. The harmful bacteria feed on that sugar you consume and create acids that attack and damage your tooth enamel, the protective shiny outer layer of your teeth,” said Domenica Sweier, a clinical professor at the University Of Michigan School Of Dentistry.
Sweier explained that the acids form a bacterial infection that could lead to cavities and cause holes in your teeth. Noting that if left untreated, cavities can advance past your enamel into your tooth’s deeper layers, leading to potential tooth loss and pain.
“Fortunately, while the acids are frequently attacking your teeth, your mouth is continually reversing the damage. Your mouth is in a constant state of demineralization, where acids are leeching the minerals from your tooth enamel.”
“However, the natural remineralization process restores and strengthens your teeth once again. Your saliva plays a crucial role in this process — it contains essential minerals like phosphates and calcium, which are influential in repairing your teeth, she added.”
Sweier also mentioned the importance of another mineral, she said fluoride helps to repair damaged and weak enamel. Noting that if you’re eating a lot of starches and sweets every day, there’s only so much the remineralization process can do to prevent the effect sugar has on your teeth. “Therefore, it’s crucial that you do your part by limiting how much sugar you consume, allowing your mouth to do its natural job of repairing the damage and maintaining good oral hygiene as sugar is sugar, no matter the form — including: Maple, syrup, honey, granulated,” she advised.
No matter your age, tooth decay causes are the same, according to the Alberta Dental Association & College. Decay occurs when plaque bacteria feed on the sugar you’re consuming in your diet.
Dentists have long urged people to avoid consuming too many refined carbohydrates and sugars. But that’s been a challenge as people do not want to control what they put in their mouth, said Tien Jiang, an instructor in the Department of Oral Health Policy and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, who noted that working from home has led to an increase in snacking. On top of that, more people have also engaged in stress eating.
Beyond cutting down on snacks, Sweier recommended paying attention to your eating and drinking habits. Avoid nibbling on food or sipping on sugary or acidic drinks throughout the day, she said. If you do have a snack, Sweier suggested rinsing your mouth with water after or chewing sugarless gum, which can help stimulate saliva flow. You should also stay hydrated with water, Jiang said, noting that dry mouth can lead to higher cavity risk.
Oral care is highly individualized, so choose toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss and rinses that you’ll consistently use, dentists say, as long as you’re using them as recommended.
If you’re not adequately taking care of your mouth and teeth, you’ll start to see or feel it.
Bleeding or inflamed, swollen gums are other signals that there may be problems with your oral health, Guyton said. “When you brush your teeth and it bleeds a little bit, that’s not normal. That could be a sign of gingivitis or something more significant.” But it can be very difficult to self-diagnose dental conditions or know for sure that your oral care regimen is effective, Cooper said.
“Going to the dentist is really the best way of identifying problems before they become big issues,” she said. “Oftentimes, by the time something begins to bleed, by the time something begins to hurt, the problem requires much more treatment than would have been necessary if the problem had been identified and addressed early by seeing your dentist on a regular basis.”