It is common knowledge that oral hygiene like brushing and flossing regularly and visiting dentists for biannual cleanings are important to overall health (even if all those pointy metal tools with their dental handpiece bearings are rather intimidating). Another widespread fact is that sugar is bad for your teeth and gums. However, why may not be as well understood. Sugar does cause tooth decay, but it does not do so by directly causing corrosion. Rather, it ignites other effects that cause the rot.
1. Increases Acidity in the Mouth
Saliva is slightly alkaline or slightly acidic by nature, hovering close to neutral, with a pH ranging from 6.2 to 7.6. Sugar breaks down inside of your mouth and interaction with saliva and the natural bacteria biome causes the overall pH in it to rise. The increased acidity may lead to your spit eating away at your tooth enamel, causing dents, chips and cavities.
2. Promotes Bacterial Growth
When sugar enhances the acidity of the mouth, it creates an environment perfect for the spread of harmful microbes that cause diseases like gingivitis. These microorganisms degrade the gums and the teeth.
3. Causes Plaque Development
Sugar, sticky and invasive, floods every nook and cranny of the mouth, forming bacteria habitats everywhere. Acid and bacteria conglomerate to become the plaque that is so harmful to the teeth. Over time, if left alone, the plaque turns to tartar, which is harder and more difficult to remove. This can cause the gum to deteriorate and recede from the teeth.
Sugar does not itself drill holes in your teeth or eat away at your gums. However, its presence allows harmful acid to come into being and gives disease-causing microbes ground to grow on and spread. It is important to clean your teeth after consuming sugar to avoid buildup of plaque and tartar.