Whether you just don’t have a “sweet tooth” or you have chosen to cut sugar out of your diet for health reasons, it can be confusing to hear you have an area of tooth decay despite your avoidance of sugar. The truth is, sugar is not the only culprit to cavities. Acidic foods and drinks as well as carbohydrates can also lead to weak spots in your tooth enamel and eventually create an area of decay.
Regardless of whether you consume sugar or not, we all have bacteria living inside our mouth. When we digest carbohydrates, the debris that is left behind on the teeth becomes a feast for that oral bacteria. Keep in mind that this food debris can be in the form of refined sugar, like those found in candy and desserts, as well as healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains!
As the bacteria feed on the carb debris, they produce acids. Once acids come in contact with your saliva, the inevitable formation of plaque occurs. Plaque can be considered the real source of cavities. We accumulate plaque on our teeth after every meal. In fact, it forms on our teeth within minutes after we eat. While we can brush and floss plaque away before it hardens, if it is not removed in a timely manner, it can erode the hard outer layer of your tooth (enamel). This creates tiny holes in your teeth, known as cavities!
If a cavity is neglected, the plaque and bacteria can further destroy your tooth, eating away at each layer until it penetrates the tooth pulp, or the center of your tooth. At this stage, you’re likely to experience severe sensitivity or pain, as the tooth center is where your nerves reside. If decay is allowed in the tooth pulp, you may need a root canal instead of a simple dental filling.
While cutting out sugar from your diet is certainly beneficial for your oral health and body health, it doesn’t exempt you from cavities. You still need to practice diligent dental hygiene as well as visit your dentist for a professional cleaning. A professional dental cleaning is the only way to remove plaque once it has hardened.
Schedule your plaque removal treatment at Gilreath Family Dentistry today. Our dental cleanings can not only prevent tooth decay, but they will leave your smile polished and refreshed!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,