Of all of the addictive substances that humans try to avoid, sugar is the sneakiest. Sugar can be found in everything from candy to lemonade to freshly baked bread. Unfortunately, sugar is one of the worst things that you can put in your mouth. Not only does it affect your health but it also ruins your teeth. Sugar is the food that allows the bacteria in your mouth to thrive and reproduce. While that sugar is being processed by the bacteria, it is also wearing away at the enamel on your teeth.
Sugar is the preferred energy source for many types of bacteria. As those bacteria multiply in your mouth, they coat your teeth. This tooth coating is called plaque. Plaque can build up very quickly on the outer surface of your teeth. It is especially hard to remove from the folds of the tooth's surface and near the gum line. Even a good toothbrush has a difficult time reaching that hard-to-remove plaque on the surface of your teeth. Bacteria use sugar as fuel and as a binding substance; they actually stick to your teeth with sugar.
While those bacteria are eating sugar, they are secreting acid. This acid is usually washed away by your saliva. Unfortunately, in diets that are especially high in sugar, saliva is unable to keep up with the acid build-up. That very same acid then begins to destroy the enamel that provides a protective covering for your teeth. Acid dissolves almost anything it comes in contact with, and your tooth enamel is not immune. Acid then creates tiny holes or pores in the surface of your tooth enamel. This decay continues until the acid reaches the internal structures of the tooth or the dentin. Left untreated, these cavities can admit infection. Infection often spreads to the gums and bone surround your teeth and that infection can cause plenty of pain.
Although sugar is very difficult to avoid completely, there are some ways that you can protect your teeth from its effects. Skipping those sugary sodas and other acidic beverages is the first step to a healthier smile. If you cannot avoid drinking a soda now and then, at least try to use a straw. Using a straw helps to keep that sugar away from your teeth.
Brushing your teeth immediately after a sugary snack is another excellent way to avoid plaque build-up and cavities. Brushing helps to remove the acid and leftover sugar in your mouth and on your teeth. Artificial sweeteners are much more beneficial to your teeth than natural sugar, as they do not fuel the bacteria in your mouth. Choosing an artificial sweetener rather than sugar is an excellent way to protect your smile.