People in the United States eat more sugar than any other country in the world. (Fortunately, we also have some of the best dentists in the world.) You hear it all the time: “sugar rots your teeth.” But is it true? What exactly does sugar do to your teeth and why is it so bad? You might want to learn more about this substance that is added to nearly every edible item in the grocery store. Portales dentists, Dr. Thompson and Dr. Pacheco tell us more below.
All food causes some buildup on your teeth. After eating and drinking, little bits of food are left behind in your mouth. Out of all the food we eat, sugar does the worst damage to your teeth.
Even healthy foods like milk, bread, and produce contain some natural sugar, but these foods also contain necessary vitamins and nutrients. Eaten in healthy amounts, your body has no problem breaking down the natural sugars with the other food bits on your teeth.
The problems begin when you eat food that has more sugar than nutritional value. Without proper nutrition, your body may be unable to fight the bacteria and decay excessive sugar consumption causes in your mouth.
Sugar is sneaky: it’s in almost everything! Read your regular grocery labels carefully just to estimate your actual sugar consumption levels. This is not an all-inclusive list, but here are some examples of these common and misleading names for sugar that are added where you least expect it:
The American Heart Association recommends you have no more than 9.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. However, in the U.S. the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons and the average child consumes 32 teaspoons…every single day!
Why is sugar so bad for your teeth? Because it causes plaque buildup and tooth decay.
Certain bacteria are normal and fine in your mouth. But sugar left on your teeth attracts bad bacteria that create plaque, which breaks down your teeth. Think of how the wind sweeps away bits of sand off a dune little by little, until eventually there is no dune left. That’s what plaque does to your teeth. It causes an acidic reaction that weakens enamel, your tooth’s outer layer.
Snacking all day means your teeth are exposed to food buildup, bacteria, and plaque over an extended period of time. Drinking sugary beverages is especially harmful because that liquid gets into all the grooves and hard-to-reach parts of your mouth. The average American consumes 53 gallons of soft drinks per year – do you see where this is going?
When plaque ruins your enamel, you get a hole in your tooth called a cavity. The hole allows more bacteria and plaque to move deeper into the inside of your tooth. This is known as tooth decay. Your enamel is the shiny white surface of your teeth and its purpose is to protect the inner layers of each tooth. Each individual tooth has a blood source and a nerve keeping that tooth alive. If decay reaches to the inner layers, your tooth may die and fall out. And all of that can happen much more quickly than you realize.
Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children, and many adults struggle with it as well. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable with healthy eating habits and proper oral hygiene. Here are some tips if you want to protect your teeth from the negative effects of sugar:
Last but not least, contact your Portales dentist at Peter L. Thompson, DDS today to make an appointment, and be sure to get your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year by our amazing hygienists.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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“What a feeling – being able to smile any time I want without shielding my two front teeth with my hand anymore! I must admit, I didn’t know much about veneers until a friend of mine mentioned them to me. He piqued my curiosity, but it was only after I spoke to Dr. Thompson and his staff that I decided to go ahead with the procedure.
I have had horrible experiences with several previous dentists and the thought of extensive work in my mouth was not appealing to me. Especially because I have a very low tolerance for pain. I can honestly say that Dr. Thompson and his staff are one-of-a-kind, and truly the best out there! Not only are the very efficient and use state of the art procedures and materials, but they are compassionate and caring. I had never thought that a healthy smile would give me such a confidence boost, but it sure did! It used to be that people always told me that my eyes smiled when I spoke to them… Now I smile with much more than my eyes!”
“I first came to Dr. Thompson’s office in January of 2010. I had been having headaches due to muscular tension in my jaw. I suffer from a relatively rare genetic disorder called Amelogenesis imperfecta. This disorder affects the enamel formation in teeth, and I basically had no enamel on my teeth as a child and adult. Due to this I had to have all my teeth removed and replaced with dentures when I was only 25.
Dentures also present some problems: because I no longer had tooth roots in my jaw, my bone slowly began to deteriorate and atrophy, both in my upper and lower jaws. Eventually, by the age of 43, I developed severe migraine headaches due to how much my jaw had changed shape over time.
This is where Dr. Thompson came in. He diagnosed the problem quickly and told me that if I didn’t get implants soon my jaws would atrophy to the point where they could no longer support dentures or implants. Before getting implants, he was able to modify my dentures so my headaches went away within a matter of a day or so. What a relief!
Now, implants are expensive, but not as expensive as I thought they would be, and it is certainly better than the alternative of not having any teeth at all, dentures or otherwise. The implants had to be installed (for lack of a better term) over the course of 3 surgeries. The surgeries were completed in the mornings and I was sent home the same day.
Recovery was roughly 3-6 months between surgeries. It was over a year from the time I first visited Dr. Thompson until I got my final implants, but the final result has been great! My new implants are much more stable than my old dentures and I can now eat things that I never could before. I don’t have to fuss with using adhesive to secure my dentures anymore, and my headaches are a thing of the past! Plus my jaws have stopped shrinking due to the implants.
Dr. Thompson and his staff were very friendly and professional during the entire process. I have been to many dentists in the past, but Dr. Thompson is easily the best.”
“When I found Doctor Thompson, you could honestly say I was at my end. All hope of ever having a normal pain-free life was entirely out of reach and there was no way anyone could possibly help me. I had been repeatedly let down by doctors, specialists, and dentists I had been to. I was convinced these people were only there to hurt you and take your money, not actually sit down with you and help you!”
My teeth were beautiful when something really bad began to happen. My teeth began breaking and wearing away. I brushed and did everything I had always been taught to protect your teeth, but nothing seemed to be helping. I saw a billboard with Dr. Thompson. I cried to my husband every time I passed it…. I only wished that I could find someone who could be what he claimed to be. I passed that billboard many times and highly doubted the possibility that he could help me. The last dentist I had gone to hurt me so bad that I was not about to trust anyone else to touch me. So I lived with it.
The day came when decided I had to trust someone. I had just gone through two pregnancies that took all the nutrients I had, therefore speeding up the deterioration of my teeth. I lived in a dark blur of pain, looked at the ground when I spoke to people, and sipped on liquid Tylenol like it was water. ALL I wanted was to be able to be the best Mommy I could be. I was able to care for them and give them everything they needed, but I couldn’t do a lot of things. It was just too painful. I wanted more for my babies! I wanted them to see their Mommy feeling wonderful and able to look her best. I wanted to show them I could interact with other people and not be afraid.
That was all a dream until I finally broke down and decided that I would never know if Dr. Thompson could help me if I didn’t ask. So, one day in 2010, I made the call. The call that would change my perspective on people and their ability to help others. That day I met Micah, and what an angel she was for me! They knew I was terrified and they did their very best to comfort me. No one can truly understand what you are going through until they have lived it, but they tried harder than anyone I had ever seen. My report was as I knew it would be, they would not be able to save my teeth. I would have to have them all removed.
At 28 years old, it’s not exactly the highlight of your life, but when you have been in so much pain and a dentist looks at you, almost with tears in his eyes and tells you that he is going to help you, it will bring life back to your view on your situation. I realized at that moment that these people were my friends and they were going to be there all the way.
One short visit and I walked away with a new mouth. At first, it was totally foreign to me to have a complete set of teeth in my mouth. It was painful, and was not easy having to relearn a lot of things all over again. With their support and confidence, they helped me believe I could do everything right again. I am writing this a year later and I could not be happier with MY smile. I have my complete set of dentures with two implants on bottom that allow the bottom denture to snap in without any troubles at all. It was a very hard road, but one that I have no regrets taking. I have my new beautiful teeth…. I can smile, talk, sing, laugh, and eat. Most importantly I feel amazing. I can be the wife that my husband deserves and the Mommy that my two little girls need me to be, energetic and fun!
There is no greater feeling in the world than knowing I will never hurt like that ever again. Everything was worth it for me. I don’t mind sharing to the world that Dr. Thompson and his team were the most dedicated and outstanding people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. They took care of me, and I will forever be grateful that I called them.”