The Dangerous Relationship Between Sugar and our Teeth

It’s no secret: sugar has been getting a bad reputation for years and overly consuming it on a regular basis can wreak havoc on your general health.  When it comes to our teeth – the story is no different.  As most of us already know, the correlation between sugar consumption and tooth decay has been a well-known fact for years.   So just exactly how does sugar cause cavities?

When “simple sugars” or “simple carbohydrates” found in candy and sweets are consumed, certain types of bacteria in our mouths go on a feeding frenzy. The stain of bacteria that responds to the sugar and is responsible for cavities is called streptococcus mutans.   According to an article published in the New York Times, it only takes about 20 seconds for sugars to be broken down in the mouth.  So the sugar in that candy bar you just consumed is actively being broken down by these streptococcus mutans, and the dangerous relationship starts its course.  Plaque, which is a term for the colonies of these types of bacteria, build up just hours after you have finished eating. They work quickly to convert the sugar into a harmful acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth creating holes commonly know as cavities or tooth decay.

What about Diet Soda?

If you are under the impression that switching from regular soda to diet soda will help reduce enamel acid erosion, think again.  Researchers have shown that the carbonic acid found in diet soda causes the same types of enamel damage that you see from other sugary soda drinks and sweet snacks.  Based on research conducted by the Minnesota Dental Association, the Missouri Dental Association, and the University of Cincinnati Biology Department, the pH level in a regular can of Coke was 2.63, which is highly acidic.  The pH level in a can of Diet Coke was almost as bad at 3.39!  Our mouths are slightly more acidic than neutral.  So for those who are not familiar with the pH scale, pH is measured in liquids by using water as the neutral pH, which reads at a level of 7.00.  From there, the lower pH numbers are more acidic, and higher pH numbers are more alkaline (non-acidic). So as you can see, regular soda is more acidic than diet soda, but diet soda is still not as neutral as water.

So how do you stop acid from harming your teeth? Well, other than cutting out all simple sugars and carbonated beverages from your diet, the combined forces of brushing and flossing are still the best methods for removing harmful bacteria and acid over your teeth. We all have our guilty snack pleasures, but consistently brushing and flossing goes a long way towards curbing the likelihood of cavities.

It is also very important that you schedule a visit with a Colorado Springs dentist because only a dentist can diagnose any enamel damage created by acid.  Dr. Andrew Hall, an implant dentist in Colorado Springs offers a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures including Teeth Whitening, Porcelain Veneers, Clear Braces and more. Visit us for a complimentary consultation today.


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