Sugar and Demineralization
Your grandma, your mom, and your dentist have told you forever that too much sugar isn’t good for you, your health, and your teeth. No one out there is telling you to follow the soda-pop-only or candy bar diet.
But what’s the real deal with sugar, and how does that sweet stuff impact your teeth?
Just what is demineralization, and what’s it doing to your teeth?
Brace yourself: your mouth is full of bacteria. Some of these bacteria actually feed on the sugars in the foods you eat and drink, turning them into harmful acids.
When the bacteria turn these sugars into acids, those acids break down your tooth’s enamel, which is the shiny, outer layer of each tooth that protects it. This is a process called demineralization. The acid erosion of your tooth enamel means your teeth are weakened and can more easily get cavities, which are holes in your teeth caused by the acid.
Demineralization can also be caused by the acids that are in soft drinks and fruit juices. These drinks lower the pH level of your mouth, and a lower pH level results in your tooth enamel breaking down.
But, there is good news! In the battle over your mouth, your natural defenses (as well as your great brushing and flossing habits!) are working to reverse this damage.
Though acids are stealing minerals from your tooth enamel through demineralization, your mouth has good friends working hard to replace those minerals. This amazing process is called remineralization.
Your saliva has minerals like calcium and phosphates that help to strengthen your teeth. Another friend to your teeth is fluoride, which is found in drinking water and in fluoride toothpastes: it also helps to replace lost minerals.
The truth is, almost every food we eat and drink we drink has sugar. We can’t avoid it. But, we can limit the amount of time our pearly whites are exposed to the damaging effects of sugar: avoid snacking on sugary foods all throughout the day, and limit drinking of soft drinks, fruit juices, and other sugary drinks to only meal times.
With your natural defenses, some good eating habits, and faithful oral hygiene, you can win the battle for your mouth!