how does sugar affect your teeth - savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Did you know that sugar itself is not the root cause of tooth decay? In fact, it’s the process of how the bacterias combine with sugar in the mouth to release acids that can cause the dreaded toothache. While a diet high in sugar certainly promotes the formation of cavities, sugar is not the main culprit, as we will explain below.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay is a common dental condition that occurs when harmful bacteria feed on the sugary foods you eat and release acids that erode your enamel. This creates holes and cavities. If left untreated, advanced tooth decay can cause pain and loss of teeth.

The good thing is that your mouth works laboriously to reverse the damages caused by these bacteria. It does this through a process known as remineralisation, which tries to restore and strengthen your teeth.

Your saliva has minerals like calcium and phosphate, which play an integral role in combating the action of harmful acids and bacteria. Nonetheless, the continuous consumption of sugary foods accelerates tooth decay to the extent that your mouth is unable to fight back in due time.

Signs of tooth decay

There are several signs of tooth decay. Some of the most common include;

  • Occasional toothache. Normally, this is a sharp pain that emanates from the decaying tooth. But it can range from mild to severe pain
  • Tooth sensitivity. This is a discomfort that comes from your teeth when you eat something hot, cold, or too sweet
  • Bad breath. All forms of decay are characterized by bad breath, and tooth decay is not an exception. If you are constantly plagued by bad breath, then it could be tooth decay
  • Formation of black, brown, or grey spots on your teeth
  • A displeasing, strange taste

If you have any pressing dental issues or questions, you can book an appointment online or contact us directly on (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport), or (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo). For international patients, it is recommended to request a free e-consultation where we can discuss your individual case and treatment options.

Sugary foods that cause tooth decay

Sugary foods are the main cause of tooth decay. Here are some of the most common:

  • Candies- most people are oblivious of candies’ ramification to their dental health. We are not by any means saying that a single candy will lead to tooth decay. But if you make it a habit, your teeth will get damaged.
  • Sweetened beverages- soft drinks and other sweetened beverages have tons of sugar. Drinking this regularly can undoubtedly lead to tooth decay. Apart from that, soft drinks, fruit juice, and sports drinks are acidic, and too much acid causes tooth decay.
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Flavoured yoghurts and milk
  • Processed foods such as sugary cereals
  • Cereal bars
  • Syrups and sauces
  • Biscuits and cakes

How sugar causes cavities

Like we said earlier, sugars are the main cause of tooth decay. But how do they do this? When you take sugary foods, harmful bacteria feed on them to form acids. These acids then gradually erode the enamel of your teeth. This, in turn, causes cavities or holes on the surface of your teeth. These cavities and holes are what we call tooth decay or dental caries. Severe decay could lead to the removal of the tooth nerve (root canal treatment) or, if too extensive, removal of the tooth itself (extraction).

According to a study commissioned by the World Health Organization in 2010, when free sugar intake is less than 10% of the energy intake, the chances of developing tooth decay are low.

Unfortunately, tooth decay is not selective, and everyone is at risk of developing it. Moreover, it is touted as the main cause of loss of teeth among all people. What you may not know is that plaque forms on your teeth barely 20 minutes after eating something sugary. If you don’t actively remove it through cleaning your teeth, tooth decay is set in motion. Sticky sugary foods are notorious for this.

What to do to protect your tooth from cavities

Embrace good dental hygiene - brush your teeth twice a day -savina dental clinics malta and gozo

Embrace good dental hygiene

One of the best ways to protect your teeth from dental cavities is to observe good dental hygiene. So, what dental care practices can help you steer away from tooth decay? You need to brush your teeth twice a day using a toothpaste with fluoride as this aids and enhances the remineralisation process. It is also important to use an interdental cleaning aid or floss to clean the spaces between your teeth.

Observe the annual dental checkups

A visit to the dentist is not something that you should be afraid of. A dentist will show you how to take good care of your teeth as well as uncover any underlying dental issues. Additionally, dentists offer thorough, professional cleaning, which helps in removing all the plaque and calculus build-up that could accelerate decay.

Use sealants to prevent plaque build-up

If you feel that you are at a high risk of tooth decay, dental sealants may come in handy. These are protective plastic coatings that are placed on the chewing surface of your teeth. They cover the pits and grooves of your teeth to prevent plaque from accumulating in them.

Eat healthy foods

Proper nutrition plays an important role in the prevention of tooth decay. See to it that you eat healthy foods. Stay away from foods that easily stick in tooth pits and grooves. Fresh vegetables and fruits will help increase the levels of your saliva. You can also chew sugar-free gum as it helps clean residues such as food particles, and so on.

Tooth decay is a prevalent dental health issue that affects millions of people across the globe. With this kind of problem, prevention is better than cure. If you have healthy teeth, implement the tips we have provided in this piece to keep them safe. And in case you have tooth decay, seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible.

Have you tried our free e-Consultation service?

If you are looking for a dental check-up in Malta or Gozo, please contact us using our online appointment form or call us now  (+356) 2125 7253 (Skyparks Business Centre, Malta International Airport) / (+356) 2155 7323 (Dingli Street, Victoria, Gozo).

Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.