Greek philosopher Aristotle is said to have made the link between sweet foods and tooth decay some 2300 years ago. What is it about sugar that’s so bad for our teeth?
Cavities and tooth decay are caused by sugar, but not directly. Instead, sugar causes bacteria to cause cavities and tooth decay. It’s the same end result, but there is a middle man there.
Your mouth is full of bacteria. Research shows that there could be as many as one billion bacteria on each of your teeth if your oral hygiene isn’t up to par. Even if you take your oral hygiene very seriously, there would still be hundreds of thousands of the little fellows in there!
Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds because not all bacteria are bad! Some of them are downright friendly, and help digest food or protect your teeth and gums. This is why mouthwash can be bad: they destroy the good bacteria as well as the bad.
Some bacteria are very bad, and Streptococcus mutans is the name of the worst one. This bacteria loooves sugar. When it finds and devours its sweet snack, it leaves behind quite a mess: it produces acids that erode your enamel.
This means that sugary snacks like chocolate and soft drinks are extremely bad for your teeth because the sweets turn acidic.
Many people go for healthy snacks like dried fruit instead of candy, but they contain sugar too! Along with soft lollies, they are extra bad because they stick to your teeth. The longer sugary snacks hang around, the more food there is for our nasty bacteria!
The only real way to win here is to avoid dietary sugars whenever possible. Other than that, the only things that help is the same advice we gave in our blog post about foods that stain your teeth: rinse with water, drink sugary drinks with a metal straw, and remember to floss and brush your teeth thoroughly.
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