The day, one-legged ducks start swimming merrily in circles the mankind can indulge its sugar cravings unrestrainedly without cradling the fear of tooth decay. We hope this happens. But until then, we are going to have to be wary about our sugar consumption. The thing with sugar is that it doesn’t carry any nutrients in it and as humans, we need vitamins, minerals, and other essentials to grow healthily and optimally. So that’s how sugar is bad for teeth and makes us prone to tooth decay? Partly yes and partly no.
Sugar isn’t directly responsible for causing tooth decay but it does set in motion a series of events that ultimately lead to tooth decay, which again boils down to one thing – that you must curb your sugar consumption.
Before we get down to the brass tacks, we are sure most of you would have the same question pop in your head as one of the patients we met the other day had. So let’s first begin with their query. Our patient asked that sugar like salt is used as a preservative for foods, which in other words means that sugar prevents the growth of bacteria on the food and keeps it safe, then why is it that the bacteria that is believed to bring about tooth decay feeds off it?
Why does sugar have the reputation of being the bad guy?
Let’s go step-by-step to understand why.
First, here is what sugar (forget its detrimental dental connotation for a while) is known to do on our overall health –
- Cause inflammation
- Expedite aging process
- Weaken your immune system
- Spikes insulin levels in blood
- Increases the risk of heart diseases
While this definitely doesn’t bode well for our body, you’d want to know how this all is linked to dental decay? If you remember, in one of our previous blogs, we discussed how misaligned teeth can cause a headache. So given that our body parts are so connected to each other, it would be hardly surprising to know that tooth decay too might be set off due to systemic imbalances.
Let’s give you an analogy. Heard of osteoporosis? Does it ring a bell? So what osteoporosis is to bones, demineralization is to teeth? Just like how osteoporosis enfeebles your bones and makes it susceptible to breaking even if you so much as sneeze, demineralization occurs when your teeth begin losing the minerals that its enamel is constituted of, thereby becoming weak and porous.
But here’s a twist in the plot, demineralization is inevitable. It has to happen or else other parts of our body like heart, brain, bones, etc. would be deprived of the necessary minerals to go on about their respective functions. But our bodies are adept at maintaining the loss and gain balance quite well, so there comes the antithesis of demineralization – remineralization, which in other words means coming back of the minerals. However, a few important factors that conduce to this process should be present like enzymes, hormones, and natural availability of minerals like calcium, phosphate, etc. But of course, something goes wrong and the process of remineralization is impeded.
This ‘something’ is the lack of healthy nutrition and this is where sugar comes into the picture. As discussed earlier sugar is devoid of essential nutrients and causes a slew of problems including inflammation, acidity, etc. Which in turn pave the way for systemic imbalances. Here we come the full circle.
So while sugar is not directly responsible for tooth decay it does create an environment that’s conducive to tooth decay.
Even if all this happens inside, this all leaves perceptible evidences for us to see. Brown spots on teeth, sensitivity to hot and cold stimuli, bad breath, etc., are all indicative of tooth decay. In this case, you need to take yourself to the good guy, we mean your dentist. Never tarry going to the dental clinic, brush & floss your teeth, eat healthy food, and most importantly opt for a diet that is moderate in sugar.