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Graphic showing cavities

Those with a sweet tooth may be surprised to learn that sugar is not the leading cause of cavities or tooth decay. Harmful oral bacteria cause acid to build up in your mouth, demineralizing your tooth enamel and forming a cavity.

There are numerous ways to prevent cavities and tooth decay, including a thorough at-home oral hygiene routine and regular visits to your dentist. However, this doesn’t mean you can indulge in sugary sweets too frequently. Learn how sugar consumption is related to cavity development and the best way to protect your oral health.

What is a Cavity?

A cavity is a small hole in your tooth where the enamel layer thins. This happens when bacteria buildup on your teeth, forming a sticky plaque biofilm. If this biofilm is not removed regularly with twice daily brushing and flossing, your tooth enamel is exposed to bacteria for prolonged periods, leading to acid erosion.

Cavities can be difficult to notice at first, but some of the symptoms can include:

  • Tooth pain or discomfort
  • Sensitivity to cold or heat
  • A rough tooth surface

Can Sugar and Other Foods Give You Cavities?

While sugar alone does not cause cavities in your teeth, studies indicate that dietary sugar intake significantly increases the risk of dental caries over your lifetime. However, sugar intake isn’t limited to candy, cookies, and desserts. Sugars like lactose, fructose, and glucose are also found in healthy carbohydrate-rich foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

Bacteria feed off the sugars left in your mouth after you eat. They also produce a layer of plaque that protects them and traps their acidic waste byproducts against your teeth. After each meal, plaque builds on your teeth and can cause your enamel to weaken.

How Can You Prevent Cavities?

There are several ways you can protect your teeth from cavities:

  • Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and small circular motions, angling the brush head 45° away from your gum line.
  • Floss daily to remove food debris, plaque, and bacteria between teeth. Or use an interdental brush or Waterpik if you have sensitive gums.
  • Use mouthwash to rinse away leftover debris and plaque and eliminate harmful bacteria. You can also rinse with fresh water after meals and snacks to remove the remaining sugar and food particles from your mouth.
  • Avoid sugary and acidic foods and beverages, including candy, soda, processed cookies, cakes, and snacks.
  • Get dental sealants because they act as a barrier between oral bacteria and the surface of the tooth.
  • Schedule routine dental cleanings, dental exams, and fluoride treatment.

Get Preventative Dental Care at Blue Island Smiles

To avoid severe oral health complications like tooth decay, periodontitis, or a dental abscess, it is critical to prevent cavities from occurring. At Blue Island Smiles, we offer numerous preventative dental treatments, including fluoride treatments, sealants, and professional hygiene cleanings to help you maintain a healthy smile.

To schedule an appointment for a check-up, contact us at (708) 371-3844.

Be proud of your smile.