We all know that sugary candy is bad for your teeth. But why, exactly? As a dentist in York, PA we want to explain what sugary candy does to teeth and gums and how it contributes to tooth decay.
Sugary candy is detrimental to teeth in two ways. First, the sugar acts as food for the harmful bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria produce acids that lower the pH in your mouth and create an acidic environment that can gradually dissolve the mineralized structure of tooth enamel, ultimately eroding the tooth enamel. Without strong enamel, your tooth is left vulnerable to tooth decay, cavities, and overall dental health problems.
Secondly, sugary candy is often sticky and easily clumps or sticks to teeth in hard-to-reach areas that can be tricky to clean. An occasional piece of sugary candy is okay, but its consumption must be followed with oral hygiene measures such as brushing and flossing. Often, the sugary types of candies that children especially love to eat have a way of getting stuck in between the molars. These teeth can be hard for children (and adults) to clean because they are harder to reach and aren’t always flossed with the same regularity that other teeth are. The sugar then sits in these crevices and allows bacteria to grow in between and on the surface of the teeth. This can lead to painful cavities and tooth decay.
Not only can sugary candy cause tooth decay, but it can also have a significant impact on the health of your gums. The same acids that can lead to cavities can irritate and damage your gums. Over time, this irritation (along with plaque and tartar) can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums. This condition is known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe gum disease or periodontitis, which can result in gum recession, tooth loss, and more serious health issues.
Now that you know why sugary candies are so bad for your oral health, you may be wondering if you can ever indulge again! The answer is yes, in moderation, and taking these steps to help minimize the negative impact of sugar.
When indulging, try to do so as part of a meal instead of as a sugary treat alone. The increased saliva production during eating can help to neutralize acid and wash away the sugar residue. Also, after consuming sweets, always rinse your mouth with water to further reduce the sugar’s presence. It’s important to avoid snacking on sugary candy throughout the day, as the more prolonged exposure to sugar can lead to sustained acid production. And most importantly, maintaining a healthy oral hygiene routine is vital. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily to remove any residual sugar and plaque. Regular dental check-ups are also crucial to catch any dental issues early, preventing further decay and damage. By adopting these practices, you can satisfy a craving for sweets while mitigating the harmful effect of sugary candy on your smile.